When Edu arrived from Corinthians in January 2001, Arsenal seemed to have found a long-term replacement to Emmanuel Petit following the Frenchman's departure the previous summer.
Edu never quite scaled the heights of his predecessor in that central midfield berth as injury - and fierce competition for places - restricted his opportunities. Nonetheless he was still a valuable member of the squad which won titles in 2002 and 2004 plus a hat-trick of FA Cups at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
|Arsenal Career||2001 - 2005|
|Appearances||127 (76 starts, 51 as a sub)|
The Brazilian couldn't have had a worse start to life in English football. Stunned by a family tragedy off the pitch, he suffered an injury on the field just 15 minutes into his debut against Leciester City. Edu played in only four further games that season but make his breakthrough in the following campaign.
Deployed in the centre or occasionally on the left, Edu clearly had everything he needed to thrive in the Premier League. He could handle the physical nature of English football, was blessed with a wonderful technique and passed the ball with assurance. Edu even popped up with the odd goal - vital strikes at Newcastle and Aston Villa spring to mind as Arsenal marched towards the Double in 2002.
That summer Arsene Wenger reinforced his midfield with another Brazilian, Gilberto, and suddenly Edu's chances were fewer and further between. However he did shine in Arsenal's run to the FA Cup in 2003 notably with a goal and an assist in the Fifth-Round victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford.
But, in the major competitions, Edu often had to settle for a place among the substitutes. His staccato Arsenal career is illustrated by his appearance stats. Edu made 127 appearances for the Club but 51 of those - 40 per cent - came from the bench.
The emergence of Cesc Fabregas was a further threat to Edu's first-team chances but, ironically, in the summer of 2005, his path to the first team cleared when Patrick Vieira departed for Juventus. By now however, Edu's mind was made up; he followed his captain out of the door and headed for Valencia.
Later, Wenger would admit he was wrong to let Vieira and Edu leave in the same transfer window, especially with Fabregas still learning his trade. And everyone at Arsenal was sad to see the Brazilian go. Not only was Edu a real talent; he was one of the friendliest faces at the training ground too.
WHAT THE FANS SAID:
I remember when I became a fan of the Gunners and the first two players who made me become a fan were Edu because of a really great goal he scored and Thierry Henry because of his elegance of football. Both of them are still brilliant players and it's a pity they have left.
László Nagy, Hungary
Edu destroying Celta Vigo before the Champions League Quarter-Final and scoring that great goal with a right foot curler in 2004
Ciaran McDonagh, Buncrana, Co. Donegal, Ireland
I saw Edu in Rymans stationers in Enfield town while Edu was out injured. I said hello and said I was a fan (as you do) and asked if he was staying at the Arsenal. The look said everything, it was then I knew he was going. Gutted - he was class!
Darren Clark, Enfield