Denilson has vowed to treat the Carling Cup Final like a kick-about on the backstreets of Brazil.

The 19-year-old midfielder, signed from Sao Paulo on transfer deadline in August, has been a revelation in this season's competition. The West Brom and Everton games served as his apprenticeship, he then went on to put in professional performances against Liverpool and Tottenham in the latter rounds.

It should be no surprise, Denilson is a mature individual. He played for Sao Paulo in the Inter-Continental Cup at the age of 16 and has been the Brazil Under-19s captain for the past year. That experience is helping him take Sunday's game in his confident stride.

"I am hoping to finish off this wonderful season on a gold standard in the Carling Cup and also the FA Cup and the Champions League," he said. "Why not?

"I don't feel any pressure at all. I am playing as though it is a kick-about in the street.

"I have already played before 80,000 a few times including against Liverpool when I came on as a substitute in the Inter-Continental Cup."

Denilson is no relation to the player of the same name who moved from Sao Paulo to Real Betis for a then world record fee of £22 million in 1998.  This Denilson is the son of a jobbing Brazilian professional and grew up with Zinedine Zidane as his hero. Like any overseas player he has needed an adaptation period. On the pitch it has been surprisingly short, off the pitch it is still ongoing.

"One thing that is very different here in England is that football is a lot faster than Brazil," he said. "But I like that. You can get a battering but you have to have the body to withstand that and although I am small I am very fit.

"The biggest issue for me has been to learn English, but I am getting there. I live here on my own, not with a family. But that is OK for me. I can follow English television and listen to American music. I can't cook but I don't drink. I respect what other individual people want to do but it is not for me.

"Gilberto has been very helpful to me while I have been here. He does not tell me what to do but he suggests good things and when we have a day off we go to places of interest like Madame Tussauds.

"I like it there. I have never met Pele but he is there in wax. It is one of the places I will go if we win on Sunday.

Then he corrected himself: "After we win on Sunday."

8/1 - Carling Cup Final: One-nil to the Arsenal

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24 Feb 2007