DENILSON has revealed classy Arsene Wenger often tried to comfort him but ultimately loneliness killed his Arsenal career.
The Brazilian midfielder, 32, arrived at the Emirates in 2006 from his boyhood club Sao Paulo, but failed to live up to expectations in north London.
A then fresh faced, 18-year-old joined the Gunners for a bargain fee of £3.4million from his home country, Brazil.
He went on to chalk up 153 appearances and score just 11 times over a five-year spell.
His best season in an Arsenal shirt was 2008/09 – he had more touches on the ball then any other Premier League player that year.
But he fell down the pecking order at the Emirates and struggled to win a starting place in 2011 before he was shipped back to Sao Paulo on loan – which became a permanent switch two years later.
The former Arsenal midfielder, says Gunners boss Wenger did all he could to revive his faltering career but it was loneliness that ultimately KO’d his Emirates dream.
He told The Athletic: “My grandchildren are going to know exactly who Arsene Wenger was, I say that because he really helped me on a personal level.
“We worked a lot on tactics and my technique, which really improved, especially my passing. But he also made a difference away from the pitch.
“He knew I was alone in London. I went to England with my agent at the time, but I was on my own a lot.
“Wenger would call me into his office for a chat every now and then, to ask me how I was doing.
“He really cared about me as a person, which made a real impression on me.
“Normally, a coach doesn’t care how a player is. It’s, ‘Sod it, I want him to do his job.’ End of conversation. But he showed a great deal of concern and kindness to me.
“So for me, he’s not just an excellent coach. He’s the best I ever worked with, not because he is a big name or because he spent so many years at Arsenal, but because of the way he treated me.”
The Brazil ace grew up in the buzzing Sao Paulo favela of Jardim Angela and revealed he found it hard to adjust to life in leafy Hertfordshire.
He lived in an estate in St Albans and didn’t interact with a single one of his neighbours and on top of that he found the grey, British weather “depressing”.
Denilson’s fellow countryman and Gunners ace Gilberto Silva, took him under his wing to help him adapt to life 6,000 miles away from his family and home, but homesickness ultimately got the better of him.
The midfielder last played for his father’s former team Botafogo in 2019, but he says he hasn’t hung up his boots yet and is on the hunt for a new side to join.