The Brazilian anchorman was revered both in his home country and in north London during his career – but his journey to the very top wasn’t always simple.
“As the only boy in the family out of four kids, I was the oldest one and had to become a man very young,” he told Arsenal Player. “I remember I started working when I was 11 years old. I wanted to have my money. The situation with my family was not best financially and my father had to work hard to raise us.
“We were happy in the village I grew up in, free, we didn’t have any crime or drugs. You didn’t hear about the crazy things that you hear about nowadays.
“We enjoyed being part of that environment. I grew up playing football on the streets with my friends, until I got the chance to play for an amateur football school and learn some things.
“This is what I did in the past. I played, went to school in a small village where everyone knew each other. That was nice because everyone helped one another through difficult times.
“[I’m] Very proud because it’s not very common for someone to come from the village I came from to have achieved these things. It was very small, tiny in fact.
“You face many difficulties in life, like when I was with my first club. I had to give up for a bit to go back home and work so I could help my family. My mum had a very hard time and had to undergo treatment until she recovered. I was there beside my family to help them on the financial side by working.
“Then, when I went back to football, it seemed that I got the credit for what I had done in the past and then I got credit for what I was doing when I started playing again.
“Everything started to happen very fast in my career, and I took every opportunity. It’s something which made me feel very proud of how far I’ve come.”
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