By Declan Taylor

Julio Baptista has described this week’s return to Emirates Stadium as a “happy and emotional moment”.

The powerful striker made a brief cameo appearance at the end of Brazil’s friendly victory over Italy on Tuesday night, his first action at his former home since departing in 2007.

Although he was only at Arsenal for one season, the 27-year-old looks back on his time at the Club with great fondness and still keeps in touch with his former team-mates.

“I’m still always in touch with Cesc Fabregas and Manuel Almunia,” he told after Tuesday’s match. “Whenever I have a chance to come back to London we arrange dinner with our wives and friends which is really good.

“Coming back to the Emirates is always a very happy and emotional moment because everyone gives me such a good reception. It's always very good to be back here.”

Baptista moved to Roma last summer and announced his arrival with the winning goal against the Giallorossi’s arch-rivals Lazio.

He is due back at Emirates Stadium with his new club in less than two weeks and unsurprisingly the former Sevilla and Real Madrid man is looking forward to the clash.

“I have never imagined confronting Arsenal in the Champions League,” admitted Baptista. “It will certainly be a different experience for me but I defend Roma now and I will do my very best for them.

“But I will always respect Arsenal.”

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11 Feb 2009