ARSENAL technical director Edu has recalled the time he was sent to jail after arriving into England with a fake Portuguese passport.
The 43-year-old had agreed a deal to join the Gunners from Corinthians in the summer of 2000, but was made to wait until the following New Year before linking up.
Edu had believed the passport secured by his agent was legitimate, though he was stopped by border control after touching down in Blighty.
Speaking to The Athletic, the two-time Premier League declared he was told: “We’re sorry. You will not be allowed to enter the country.”
He was then detained in jail for ten hours at Heathrow’s detention centre, with the Brazilian Invincible revealing he was reduced to tears.
Discussing the incident, he remarked: “At first, I was really relaxed. I explained I was a footballer, that I was here to join Arsenal. And then they said, ‘Sorry, your passport is a fake’.
“I said, ‘What do you mean, ‘fake’?!’ My father is Portuguese, my grandmother is Italian, my grandfather is from Portugal and was born there. All my family is from Portugal or Italy.”
However, unbeknownst to Edu, his agent at the time had supplied him with a counterfeit passport in a hurried effort to get his transfer to Arsenal over the line.
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Edu continued: “They told me they were sorry, but I had to go back to Brazil. That’s when they put me in a cell.
“I was in there for 10 hours. You have to be imprisoned while you wait for the next plane.
“When I got there, I realised how serious the situation was. That’s when I started to cry — ‘Man, I’m in prison’.
“I called my father straight away. I was in tears. I said, ‘Listen, I’m in jail’. Imagine the panic, the questions. I had to explain to them over the phone, ask them to contact the agent. It was a big mess.”
He eventually returned to Brazil to play for Corinthians, with the Brazilian side and Arsenal finding an agreement to bring him to England in January 2001.
Following the passport debacle, Edu entrusted his brother to manage his career, who worked with David Dein and Dick Law in obtaining legitimate paperwork for the midfielder.
His new application was granted after months of hard work, with Edu cleared of any wrongdoing having been deceived by his agent.
Edu, who returned to Arsenal in 2019 to become their technical director, featured in 127 appearances for the Gunners during his spell at the club.
Along with two league titles, he also won the FA Cup twice – featuring in the final victories against Chelsea in 2002 and Manchester United in 2005.