Brazil Gunners
André Santos is enjoying life at Arsenal

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".

Wellington: I won’t forget what I’ve lived here, I’ve learned a lot

The Brazilian wants to have an active role in Levante’s challenge

One of the footballers more hopeful with the new season that Levante faces is Wellington Silva. The Brazilian had few opportunities under manager Luis García but with the opportunity of playing the entire season with the squad (in 2010-11 he arrived during the winter), he believes his role will be different.

Interestingly, he doesn’t want to erase his experience at the club and start over, but instead he wants to learn from what he has lived as a granota. “I don’t forget what happened last season. Even though I barely played, I’ve learned a lot from everything I’ve been through with my teammates. I don’t think about how I played just a few minutes, that’s not what matters, the important thing is that the club remained in the first division”, says the striker.

The Bazilians face with desire this new challenge. “I’m happy, there’s a new manager, the squad remains being fantastic and now I’m only thinking about working to make this year a good one for all of us”, he indicates. A good campaign in the league could mean salvation despite Wellington not being obsessed about it. “We can’t be obsessed on remaining in the first division, instead we must prepare the best we can for every match”, explains. Talking about obsessions, he doesn’t allow to get to his head the millions Arsenal paid to sign him. “My club only paid what I’m worth. My responsibility and my pressure, since I can’t play for them, is to play well for Levante and I’ll make it up their belief in the best way I can, which is by doing well in training and, when it’s the right moment, do well in the matches”, he remarked.

When it comes to Arsenal, another gunner is Pedro Botelho, one of the hopes for the granotas as a left back this season. “He’s another young footballer, very potent, I’ve talked to him and asked if he’d come to Levante, but we must respect his decision since he has to play where is better for him, so he can go back to Arsenal, which is his goal”, says. Wellington also want to be successful at the Premier League but he had no doubts about where he should play this season. “The clubs talked but I was part of the decision. I was the one who wanted to be at Levante, I didn’t want to play at another club. It was my decision to come back”, affirmed the granota forward. 

Wellington says he’s learned with Muricy Ramalho

He emerged as Fluminense’s last great promise, but he wasn’t able to get a spot in the team before leaving for Europa. Already at England, where he will sign his contract with Arsenal, Wellington Silva is full of dreams and expectations. Last Saturday, at the barbecue party that celebrated his 18th birthday but also marked his farewell, the young player says he has learned with the public disagreement he had with manager Muricy Ramalho.

"It’s in the past, from now on everything will be different. I said too much and I’ve learned with my mistakes. I’ve been through many difficulties in life and that was just another one. But we talked and everything was alright. What matters is that Muricy proved once more that he’s a winner by getting the Brasileirão title last year again" said Wellington.

Fluminense’s breakthrough talent only played two matches in the campaign. When he was not given enough chances, he ended up having an argument with the manager in October. Since then, he only trained to keep his fitness.

After having his work visa denied in England, Wellington is waiting to know his next step. On Sunday, he left with his dad for England. Then, his destination should be Madrid, in Spain:

"I’m happy and anxious. It’s a one in a lifetime moment. I still don’t know to which club I’m going on loan, but I’ve been told it’s in Madrid. I confess I don’t have any preference, I’m already at Arsenal and it’s up to them to decide"

Gilberto Silva’s interview Part 2

What’s like to play in Greece? The Greeks are fanatic about football, aren’t they?

The Greeks are really fanatic, sometimes it’s even over the top. My move here has been important too, Panathinaikos has been a club that has opened doors for me, gave me conditions to keep playing. Of course in the beginning you feel a great difference when you come from England, but I was started to adapt slowly, it has not been so difficult and it’s been nice.I’ve been for 3 years already, it went by quickly, it’s coming to the end.

Talking about the European cities where you have lived, which one you liked the most?

Every place has a good side and a side you like less. London, for the easiness, the opportunities, the quickness in so many aspects and a greater calmness about things than we have here, but the weather doesn’t help much. Here is the opposite, the weather is wonderful, but there’s this other side,some things happen very slowly. I always try to focus on the bright side of things; if we think about it, everything has a negative side. So I try to always focus on the positive side, because that’s how I think things should be.

Do Brazilian players have more difficulty to adapt to the European culture in certain places more than the other foreigners?

When you see Brazilian players that had an opportunity to be abroad going back to Brazil earlier than expected, you realize there’s a serious difficulty. I don’t know the reasons, I think each person lives a different reality in each club. What I think is that you have to pay a price sometimes, put in your head that you’ll have to start things over again, forget that won the league in Brazil, that you won Libertadores, you have to put it aside and get a fresh start.

When I went to England, I thought that way, I had to start again, conquer my space at the club, learn a new language, a new culture, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I believe than when you leave, everyone that leaves the country, especially to play abroad, know they’ll face difficulties. If when the first problem comes - for example, learning the language, which is one of the factors that turns the adaptation more difficult - you feel down and want to go back, you will not see any benefits from the move, it shows it wasn’t worth leaving, you should have stayed in Brazil.

In the first World Cup you played, your place in the starting XI happened because of a tragic accident with Emerson, where he broke his arm. How was your night, knowing you would start with the team?

First I’d like to let something very clear, that for the group the accident on the day before the match was very tragic, we lost our captain. He was very important for the group. When I was picked up by Felipao, he and Murtosa went to my room and told me I’d start, they were very calm with me, made me feel at ease, told me to do what I was already doing at Atlético, that if I did what I did at Atlético, they’d be happy already. I believe that in a certain way I managed to do what they expected from me.

What is it like to be world champion and to be considered one of the main leaders of the squad?

It’s a fantastic feeling, practically impossible to be described, and for me, the best things of it all, was arriving at Brazil and really feel what it meant, what it meant for the entire country, and there you are, representing all that people, let’s put it this way, you carry the responsibility, through football, in your shoulders, and you only know what everything you achieved really means when you arrive at your country.

So it’s something that can’t be described, but every now and then, memories come back to your mind, you think about everything you have lived, days, moments in training, the moment when you arrived at the country, the moment of the final whistle, some moments during the match. Sometimes you feel a chill down your spine, it’s even scary to think about it. It’s been 8 years and I still shiver when I recall those moments.

In 2006, many people said the team lacked desire, how do you deal wish such criticism? Do you really feel it lacked, not for you but for some of your teammates or do you think it was a different match that you just couldn’t win?

When it comes to Brazil, where we have such high expectations about the NT, sometimes the demands aren’t very fair, are they? When Brazil plays, we have to win everything, and because of this, even us players have great demands for ourselves, we are never satisfied with 2nd, 3rd place, something that is very valuable out here. I disagree with many things that were said, I think no one goes to a World Cup with lack of desire,with thoughts of not wanting to win, because everyone makes sacrifices, stays apart from the family for so long.

What really happened in that match wasn’t much different from how we played during the entire World Cup, we didn’t have a good WC, the NT itself didn’t play well, we didn’t get things going how we got in 2002, where we had a tough debut match against Turkey but then the team managed to get things going well, even when Felipao made some changes, everything went fine. In 2006 it was different, the team didn’t manage to play as well as we played in the Confederations Cup in the previous year. We know it’s a responsibility we need to carry, we can’t run away from it, but it wasn’t because we lacked desire to win it,I don’t think anyone enters the pitch, especially in a World Cup, with this type of thought. Unfortunately, I have to recognize we didn’t play well, France was better, they knew how to press us on your side of the pitch and we couldn’t develop our good football during the match.

Gilberto Silva’s interview Part 1

The beginning of your career was very difficult. You even stopped playing for awhile, didn’t you? How was the beginning?

I arrived at América [Club at Minas Gerais state] at the age of 16. I had gone for trials in Atlético before, but I was ruled out. When I was successful with América’s trial, it was the first time I left my town to be at a club.

After some time, some personal problems happened at home, so I decided to drop everything and go back help my father with work. I worked hard and only returned to América when I was 19, 2 years and a half after I had left. In the meantime I worked at a candy factory in Lagoa da Prata, my city, but sometimes I thought about going back, try one last time. When I really decided to return, things worked in the best possible way.

You started your career with América, but you were called up for the National Team for the first time when you were playing for Atlético-MG. For which of the clubs do you feel more affection and which one do you miss the most?

I feel the same affection for both clubs, no more or less for any of them. In one of them, it was the beginning of everything, América was the club that opened doors for me. Atlético was the club that got me recognition at the Brazilian football scenario, there I had the opportunity to be called up for the NT. Each one of them had a very important step in my career.One, for opening doors for me - América. The other, for getting me recognized - Atlético. For me it would be difficult, even unfair, to say I like one more than I like the other.

Do you intend to end your career in Brazil?

I think about it,it’s a possibility that I won’t rule out. I still have 6 months left with my contract here, it goes until June/2011,and let’s see what happens until there, if I receive an interesting offer, I’ll consider it!

Do you prefer a team in Minas Gerais?

If I were to return, I’d prefer to go back to Minas. It’s something I’d really like. But since I’m a professional, if there is another possibility, I’ll study the situations, the possibilities before making a decision, or if I’ll stay here for longer. The next 6 months will be very important for me to make a decision, my contract here at Panathinaikos is in its final months.

Some time ago, Arsene Wenger said you leaving Arsenal was a precipitate move, how was your exit?

Look, I disagree with him about it being precipitate. The reason of why I left he knows very well and a big part of it had his contribution.

I think he meant it was his fault, he shouldn’t have let you leave so early.

After Copa América in 2007, usually I was one of the last players to show up for pre season time. In that year, I arrived one week before the league started, and the team had already taken part of the pre season, played in the Amsterdam Tournament. He kept the team for the beginning of the league, after the 3rd match I was already ready to play, in conditions to go through an entire match or at least 70, 80 minutes. But he preferred to stick with the base, until one day I went up to him and asked if there was something wrong going on. Then he replied that he’d stick with the base he had built and that I had returned after the other players. He knew it wasn’t news, what surprised me the most was the fact that in the previous season I was the team’s captain, practically for every match, since Henry was injured. That was the main reason why I left.

Do you miss your time at Arsenal?

Yes, I do! I can’t say I don’t. I miss the time I stayed there, the club, it was a club where I conquered so many great things, it was a very important club in my career, it helped me a lot. I miss the tranquility, the organization, English people are very good on it when it comes to football. At least, that’s what I’ve learned with Arsenal.

At the moment I decided I was leaving, when I talked to him, I didn’t feel, from his part, a certain security that I’d have a chance to play again, since I already hadn’t played much an entire season,I played a few games only. One of the reasons I left was related to the NT, I still had in mind to keep playing for the NT, I wanted to play one more World Cup. I chose to leave to keep match fit, because I was losing this condition sitting on the bench for Arsenal.

Denilson’s Journal: to say goodbye, lunch with my Arsenal friends

Hi guys!

Time went by so quickly! Today is my last day writing this Journal.

First, I’d like to say thanks for giving me this space. Indeed, it was very cool to be able to show a background of my life in London. It’s a beautiful city, but with people, most of the time, as cold as the weather.

As I said yesterday, today’s pictures are from a Christmas lunch Arsenal players had. I don’t know if you know it, but in England the league doesn’t stop not even for the holidays in the end of the year, that’s why we celebrate in the any way we can. All very simple and rushed, because our heads can barely stop thinking about the competition. For example, on December 31st I’ll be in a hotel with the team.

Today we were supposed to play against Stoke, but the match was postponed because of the snow. The pitch is so white!

In one of the pictures you can see some of my friends here. Fabianski, Fabregas, Walcott, Arshavin, Vela, among others.

Big hug and if you want to have the chance of winning an autographed shirt by me, just need to follow me on twitter.

Denilson’s journal: pool with hot water to face the snow (and cold)

Thursday was a pretty busy day! We had a very hard training session at Arsenal and there was a long talk between the coaching staff and the players. I apologize to the online readers for not writing on my journal, but a few commitments after training ended up delaying me.

Well, after the activities I went to the hotel where I lived in 2006 for three months when I arrived in England. I still have friends there and I’m used to go back when it’s too cold (it snowed a lot here yesterday) to enjoy the hot-watered pool, also to get a hydro-massage and chat with my friends. Considering how cold it is in London, such moments end up being a great way to spend your time.

Today, after training, we will have our Christmas gathering. Since the league doesn’t stop not even for the holidays, it has to be something simple.Anyways, most of the players have already demanded that there’s a bit of pagode [Brazil’s musical style] going on.

Denilson’s Journal: Do you know what Parchis is?

Hello guys!

As promised, nothing unexpected happened for today’s journal (laughs) After lunch, we have to go to Arsenal’s Training Ground.I believe that today we’ll have to work inside the pool and at the gym. Besides that talk between the coaching staff and the players about last match and our next opponent. (Stoke City).

I woke up not so long ago and enjoyed my free time by having a friend coming over to my place. Alexandre is Brazilian and he controls my finances here in London. Since he stopped by, I took him by his arm to play PARCHIS with me, which is a very famous board game in India and here in England. The aim of the game is to take pawns of different colours around the whole board and up to the center of the board. It’s a great way spend time with friends in this cold weather. By the way, English people love board games.

Alright, I gotta go, because today, even in London, believe me, it’s going to be a long day. Showing up at the Training Ground after a defeat, doesn’t matter if it’s a derby or not, is never nice.

I’ll try to post at the journal tomorrow a few pictures of Arsenal’s Training Ground so you can see how it is.

Let’s give it a try…

Right, this is me trying out Tumblr, I suppose it should be simple even for me who can’t understand the basics of technology, and I figured it’d be the best place to post Denilson’s journal posts or whatever else related to Brazil Gunners show up.

This page also should have a better look in the next few days, just please be patience with me!

Okay, guess that’s it, enjoy!