Gilberto Silva has announced his retirement from football at the age of 39.
The Brazilian spent six years at Arsenal between 2002-2008 playing a crucial midfield role in the final seasons at Highbury and the formative years at the Emirates.
A low-key figure who arrived in England with the nickname ‘the Invisible Wall’ after helping Brazil win the 2002 World Cup, he went on to anchor Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’, picked FA Cup medals in 2003 and 2005 and played in the Champions League final in 2006. In total he made 244 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 24 goals.
Quiet but dependable, Gilberto captained his country to Copa America success in 2007 and operated as the Gunners’ vice-captain for two years before moving to Greek side Panathinaikos. In Athens he won the Greek League and Cup.
Gilberto wound down his career back in his homeland, moving first to Gremio before completing a career-long ambition to return to first love Atletico Mineiro. Amazingly, he helped them secure the Copa Libertadores – the South American version of the Champions League – at the age of 37.
A serious knee injury means he’s not played first team football in nearly two years although he always harboured hopes of a return.
On retiring, Gilberto released the following statement: “As of today, I’ve called time on my career as an athlete. It’s a difficult decision.
“Worldwide, we do not ask to be born. When we are born, we do not want to die. I’ve heard a phrase that says footballers dies twice. I disagree. I think the football player dies once, and makes a transition from the field to a new stage. For me, it’s a time of transition, not a first death.
“No matter how painful it may be – it’s a moment that could be seen as a sad, difficult time – but I see it with great joy. I’ve enjoyed 20 years of great joy. That’s what it has been for me and my family.”
“I’ve spent the last two years on the sidelines preparing myself for a new stage of my life and I did not know when the time would come [to retire]. It is time to make the transition.
“These last few weeks I’ve been in London visiting Arsenal, my old club. I realised a nifty way to continue in football in a different way, that is as an international consultant working with clubs and athletes. I will do a job using what I have learned.
“We can all contribute to football. We want a better future for the fans. A lot of people in the game are killing the passion for football, and they need to be punished. Children have to go to matches to cheer and support without being suspicious. I’ve never seen so much corruption in the game as there is today. That has to change and I will never fail to share my opinion.”
Gilberto made an appearance at the Emirates a couple of weeks ago and unsurprisingly, he was given a hero’s welcome.
Everybody at Arseblog News wishes him all the best for the future.