Interview

'I always wanted to wear the Arsenal shirt'

Life is going very well for Gabriel in England.

Our centre back has just won his second successive Player of the Month award after a string of fine displays, but things have not always been so easy for him in his career.

Swapping his native Brazil for France, plus a spell on loan in Croatia, were challenging experiences for him, but he insists they were the making of him.

"When I was young at Avai [his first club in Brazil], I faced many difficulties, but I never stopped dreaming and never let my head drop. I kept moving forward with the support of my family and friends," Gabriel told Arsenal.com.

"My mother was a bit scared when I left for Avai as it was a different city, so it was tough. She cried and wanted me to go back because it’s normal for a mother to want to look after her son, but she’s seen the results today and is very happy.

"It was very hard at the start when I arrived at Lille [in 2016] because I was in a city where I didn’t speak the language and was very young, so it was tough. I learnt so much there.

01:17

🏆 Gabriel makes it two in a row! | October Player of the Month

"After my loans at Troyes and Dinamo Zagreb, I really matured. When I went back to Lille, I was more mature and was more familiar with Europe and the style of play. When I started playing, thank God I was able to do so regularly and put in good performances, helping Lille reach the Champions League. That was very fulfilling for me."

Soon Gabriel's standout performances attracted admiring glances from some of the biggest clubs in the world, but the centre back just tried to keep his head down and work hard.

"I was trying not to hear too much about transfer speculation because you always end up thinking about everything that’s going on," he said. "After Arsenal came into the equation, he told me about other clubs that were interested, but I chose Arsenal because it was a dream for me. It’s a club that I really like and always watched on TV, with fantastic history.

"Arsenal is a huge club, one of the biggest in the world, and I told my agent from the start that if Arsenal came in for me, I wanted to wear the shirt, play at the stadium and feel the fans' support because it’s a club I’ve always watched. I’m now very pleased to be here today alongside top players. It’s a childhood dream of mine."
 

01:08

Gabriel's colossal display repels all danger

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