To celebrate the 16th anniversary of Silvinho signing for Arsenal, we pulled a classic interview with the defender from our archives. This piece first appeared in the Arsenal Magazine in 2007.
Brazilians have been very much to the fore at Arsenal in recent times. No more so than in the last few years, with Gilberto firing on all cyclingders and doing such an able job as stand-in captain, and Julio Baptista running riot at Anfield.
‘The Beast’ joins a long line of Brazilians who have made a name for themselves in north London. The first was Silvio Mendes Campos Junior, otherwise known as Silvinho, who joined from his home-town club Corinithians in 1999.
"I’ll never forget Highbury - it was something very different to playing in Brazil. And the fans were very kind to me - they made me a tape of Arsenal songs which I still have"
The marauding left back spent two seasons with the Gunners, gaining many friends and admirers, before heading for Spanish club Celta Vigo in 2001 and then joining Barcelona. He talked to Dan Brennan about his time at Arsenal, life at Barcelona and his hopes for the future.
Do you still keep up with events at the club?Yes of course, as much as possible. I have really great memories of being an Arsenal player. They were my first team in Europe and they gave me an opportunity to play for one of the best teams in the world. Being there for two years was a great pleasure for me and I still have a great feeling for the club.
I try to watch the big games from the Premier League, especially if Arsenal are playing of course. As for the supporters, I will never forget them. The atmosphere in the stadiums in England was always incredible. I’ll never forget Highbury - it was something very different to playing in Brazil. And the fans were very kind to me - they made me a tape of Arsenal songs which I still have.
You were on the bench for the Champions League final. Was it a disappointment not to get the chance to play?Of course I was a bit upset not to play against Arsenal in the Champions League final. It was a bit of a strange feeling facing Arsenal. I never imagined that the two teams would meet in the final. Even though I didn’t play it was still a great experience and I was really pleased to see so many of my old friends, not just the players but some of the other staff, such as Amanda and Dan from the press office. And of course I said hello to Mr Wenger.
Your successor at left back at Arsenal was Ashley Cole, who was emerging from the youth team ranks. Was it clear to you then that he would develop into such a good player?Even though we were competing for the same position he was a player I always liked very much, and I hope I was able to help him. It was clear early on that he had the chance to become one of the best left backs in the world - so powerful and quick, and with great technique. He has improved a lot since I first saw him and I know he has left Arsenal but I wish him well.
You paved the way for Brazilians at Arsenal when you joined in 1999. Next was Edu, who followed you to Spain. Do you stay in touch?We stay in touch by phone or text but we obviously have very busy schedules, so it’s not possible to see each other as often as we would like. I have visited him at his home in Brazil when when he’s been on holiday. He is from Sao Paulo like me and we had dinner together with our wives.
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