André Santos is already at home in London. Literally. After a month and a half living in a hotel, the left back, recently hired by Arsenal, found a new place to live. Alongside his wife Suelen, who’s 8 months into pregnancy, the player traded the city of Istambul, Turkey, where he played for Fenerbahçe for 2 seasons, for the English capital. And since the idea is to adapt as quickly as possible, André Santos accepted GLOBOESPORTE.COM invitation and went to taste the traditional fish and chips from Londoner pubs.
"It tastes good, man. English cuisine may not be the best in the world, but I like fish, I’ve always liked it. It reminds me of those bars in Florianópolis [city in South Brazil, where he lived for a while], they have many fishes there like this one here. There, they don’t use potato, but parsley and lemon instead… - said the LB, remembering his beginning of career in Florianópolis, when he played for Figueirense.
At the age of 28, André Santos says he has practically achieved all his professional dreams. In Brazil, he also wore the shirts of Flamengo, Atlético Mineiro and Corinthians, the last one being the club of his heart since his childhood days in Interlagos, in São Paulo’s south.
"Each day I wake up I feel happier. Professionally I’m completely accomplished. Of course we always have new goals for our careers, but I’m so grateful for all I have built so far", he stated.
However, it’s off the pitch where André’s biggest joy is at the moment. In the beginning of November, the player will become a dad for the first time. Little Arthur is on his way.
"I even joked with my wife, since Arthur will be born in London, then his name will have to be spelled with ‘TH’, it’s fancier this way (laughs)", joked.
Sequence as part of starting XI, mistake and punishment: André Santos wants a happy ending in National Team
Of the 18 matches the NT played under manager Mano Menezes, André Santos started 13, and taking into consideration he couldn’t have been called up for two of them (v Argentina for the Superclássico of Américas - only players playing in Brazil were allowed).
The problem is André Santos made a big mistake the last time he wore the yellow shirt. In the friendly match v Alemanha (Brazil lost 3-2), in August, in Stuttgart, the LB lost the ball inside the area, which cost the third German goal. After that day, he wasn’t called up again by Mano.
"If I started all those matches, I think I was doing something right, wasn’t I? I acknowledge my mistake against Germany, I really lost the ball, I should have done the simple thing and ended up with a huge mistake. I wasn’t in my best physical shape, I hadn’t been part of pre season and I made my mistakes. I’m being punished at the moment, a deserved punishment, but I know I have what it takes to get back into the NT. With my work, respecting everyone, I know I’ll get another chances to play for the NT", warns Arsenal’s number 11.
A talk that doesn’t please André Santos is listening that LB is a position that lacks talented players in Brazilian football. He disagrees, defending the position. He mentions as good examples his NT teammates Marcelo, Adriano and Cortês, besides himself, of course. The oldest of the players mentioned, André Santos believes that moving to Arsenal was an essential move to pursue the biggest dream of his career: to play (and win) in a World Cup.
"Only to play in a WC isn’t my biggest win. I want to win a WC. This is my biggest goal at the moment, I don’t hide it from anyone. I’ll work hard to have the opportunity to be part of Brazil’s squad for 2014, I want to be there and to win the WC in my country"
From Fener to Arsenal: upgrade
The team was good; the city, beautiful, intense and really pleasing to live there. André Santos was happy in Instambul, defending the current Turkish champions Fenerbahçe, where he was an idol for the supporters. But a scandal of match fixing in the Turkish league ended with the player’s delight. His former club was punished by Uefa and excluded from the Champions League this season.
"I remember it was a day off and Alex (Brazilian midifield and Fenerbahçe’s captain) called all the players saying there would be an important meeting at the club. We arrived there and we were told we wouldn’t be playing at the UCL. Next day, I talked to my agent (Carlos Leite) and I told him I wanted out, to play for another club. Since he has strong bonds with people in England, next day he told me Arsenal was interested in me and that Arsene Wenger would call me to ask if I wanted to play here", he tells.
André’s phone didn’t take long to ring. The talk with Arsenal’s manager was quick and straight to the point. And in English.
"Wenger called me and his first question was if I spoke English. I said no, but that I could understand a bit (laughs). Really, I can manage myself in English, I understand it pretty well. Even more because my dad is an English teacher in Florianópolis and when I was a kid I learned a little from him. I talked to the managers and said it would be a dream to wear Arsenal’s shirt. He told me to get on the first plane and sign the contract", reveals the fullback.
André Santos found Arsenal in a crisis that wasn’t seen in a long time; players asking to leave the club, medical department crowded and a humilliating 8-2 defeat to the rivals Manchester United.
"Things have become a little better from then to now, but our team still isn’t completely formed, we have to find a match standard to get out of this situation. Even in crisis, this move was good to me. I respect Fener a lot, but I can’t deny it was an upgrade in my career. To play in the Premier League, to have the chance of playing in UCL being one of the favourites, this will get to any player. Arsenal is one of the best clubs in the world".