1 June: An Arsenal man captains Brazil

This was the first senior international match at the new Wembley Stadium.

Gilberto was not everyone’s favourite at Arsenal but he was so missed during a long absence with a back injury that after that fans seemed to love him more and more.

He started as a footballer in 1997 with a tiny team, and by 2002 he was playing all of Brazil’s games in the World Cup finals.  It was quite a rise to success in five years.

And then he came to Arsenal for £4.5 million.  How could the fee be so low?  It took a while to make a guess, as we realised the issues with his former club and its chaotic financial situation.  Other debts needed to be paid and it is reported that the arrangement had to be that some money had to go straight from the buying club (Arsenal in this case) to the organisations owed money.

And after that he was an Invincible winning the 2003/4 League.  On 19 August 2006 he scored the first league goal at the Emirates.  He also won the cup twice.

And yet none of these events with Arsenal might have happened, because Atlético Mineiro had not paid their players, they were banned from transfer deals.  And there were problems getting the work permit.

But of course ultimately he did get the work permit, and the transfer was arranged.

Gilberto played his first game for Arsenal on 11 August 2002 as a sub in the Community Shield, and he scored the winner.  Not a bad start.

But we also had Edu in the squad, and at first it was unclear who would be the top man in midfield.  Eventually, Gilberto won, Edu moved on.

Meanwhile, Gilberto was suing Atlético Mineiro for his past wages, while also getting his first medal in the Cup Final win against Southampton.

He played 32 of the 38 unbeaten games as an Invincible but it was at the start of the next season that things started to go wrong… the things ultimately diagnosed as a fractured back.   It looked like he would never play again.

However by September 2005, Gilberto, having fully recovered from his injury which affected him for 18 months, said he wanted to stay at Arsenal for the rest of his career and despite problems earlier in the season he then played in the Champions League final.

Privately he is a patron of The Street League, which organises football matches for homeless people, refugees and asylum seekers.   It is patronage that, it seems to me, reflects his own humble beginnings.    And he’s a mandolin player and a guitarist – he is reported to have played in his local pub while playing for Arsenal.

Henry Norris at the Arsenal:  There is a full index to the series here.

Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever

Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.

100 Years: 100 Years in the First Division

Arsenal today: Untold Arsenal 

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