Gabriel Martinelli’s star is shining. Having enjoyed a low-key arrival at Arsenal, his 10 goals this season have now made him the talk of the town. Not just here, but back in his homeland.
After his solo-effort against Chelsea, Andreza Galdeano of Brazilian publication Estadão was despatched to London for an interview.
Here’s a translation of his chat with Gabi who reflected on a whirlwind start to life at Arsenal, his hopes for the future and his mastery of English.
You played for Corinthians, went to Ituano and today you are known all over the world. How does it feel to go through this?
When I turned six, my father took to Corinthians and since then I have not stopped. I never thought of giving up. When you get here, you start to remember everything that happened. Going by bus to training at Corinthians, everything you had to go through with your family. I end up giving more value and I’m ever grateful for everything that happened and that life has taught me. All of this gives me the strength to continue to achieve even more.
You are the first player under-20 to score ten goals in a single season for Arsenal. How do you evaluate your current phase?
It’s hard to think that until recently I was playing for Ituano and now I’m here. It’s great to see these people talking about me, but I have to focus and keep working hard to achieve even greater things.
Do you think you are living a dream?
Yes, it is a dream. Not only mine but for my whole family, who have always had dreams for me. I just have to say thanks for the moment I’m living. I know I have to keep going the same way I did before I got here. My father and mother talk to me a lot and always keep me grounded and tell me to keep fighting.
Do you already think about wearing the shirt of Brazil?
Of course, I do. But I’m still young. My main focus now is Arsenal. If I get a call-up it’s a consequence of what I do here.
Do you think about wearing Italy’s colours?
I have the option to play for either Brazil or Italy. I haven’t decided anything yet. I’m doing my job here for Arsenal. And as I said, this talk is a consequence of what I’m doing here.
The English media have said you might soon triple your salary. Do you have contact with any other clubs?
Nobody has spoken to me about that. I’m very focused on Arsenal and doing my best. I intend to help Arsenal with more goals and victories.
Arsenal fans have created a song for you. What’s it like to earn this affection?
I’m very grateful for everything they have done since I arrived at Arsenal. They always send lots of messages, when I’m at the games they encourage and applaud me. After the game, some wait for pictures at the stadium. It’s a very good relationship with them. In Brazil, I played for Ituano and there was some of this, but it’s different here.
Do you speak much with Edu?
We have a lot of contact. He’s a really good guy who tries to talk to me a lot and shares advice. He always ensures I keep my feet on the ground. I intend to make my story in this [Arsenal] shirt. I want to repay everything the fans are doing for me and I want to give joy with goals and titles.
How was your arrival at Arsenal?
The first day I arrived was very interesting. I had photos taken by the club and went to have lunch at this big table. The players came to talk to me and I didn’t even know how to reply. Then I got changed, went to the gym and all the players were there. I thought, “My God, I’m in heaven, it’s a dream to be here with such football stars.” These things inspire me. It’s a dream come true.
Have you mastered English yet?
I’m learning, in order to speak with teammates. Most of them can speak Spanish and I’ve learnt some English. But to give interviews, it’s more difficult. I study inside the club, they provide classes. I always try to do it when I’m not travelling to the games. It’s undoubtedly one of the most difficult parts because I had never done any English until I got here.
How are you taking to the other customs, the training, schedule, food…?
I’m taking it all in my stride. The food, for example, my mum is here with me and she cooks what I like. I miss the rest of my family and friends very much. I have three sisters, two are married and one is still small, only 8-years-old, she could not come because she is at school. I miss here. I used to see her every day, pick her up from school, things like that. But we still always talk on the phone.