Former Brazil goalkeeper Marcos Roberto Silveira Reis, known simply as Marcos, has spoken about almost joining Arsenal after the 2002 World Cup.
Marcos is one of those increasingly rare one-club men, making over 500 appearances for Brazilian side Palmeiras over a period of 20 years. 10 years into his senior career, however, he had the chance to make the switch to Europe and join Arsenal.
The goalkeeper had just won the World Cup with Brazil, playing every game at the tournament and conceding just four goals in seven matches.
That caught Arsenal’s attention, and they made him an offer to move to England, coinciding with Palmeiras relegation to Serie B. Marcos recently explained how close he came to accepting the transfer, and why he didn’t in the end.
“I had the offer, travelled to London, but Palmeiras were going through a tough time in their history, after relegation, and I couldn’t play some of the matches due to injury,” Marcos recalled in an interview with FourFourTwo.
“I had the opportunity to join Arsenal, but this was also a chance for me to show the Palmeiras supporters that what I said about loving the club was true.
“I didn’t want to do what many players do: sign a long contract (with Arsenal) – mine was supposed to be five years – and then tell the club I couldn’t adapt, ask to be loaned out, and still earn the club’s money.
“I don’t think it’s a nice thing to do. That’s why I spoke openly with Arsene Wenger.”
On that discussion with Wenger, Marcos was very complimentary of the Arsenal boss. Though the manager was obviously disappointed to land his man, he clearly accepted the decision in his usual understanding fashion.
“It was great. I have only the best impression of him as a manager and a person,” Marcos continued. “He totally understood my point, but he said it was a shame that I’d decided to return home to Brazil.
“After that, I understood how he could achieve so much with Arsenal and manage so many internal issues at such a huge club. On top of his football knowledge, he’s an amazing person.”
Arsenal ended up signing Jens Lehmann instead, and it’s hard to complain about the German’s time at the club, from the invincible season to an FA Cup and a Champions League final – let’s just forget about what happened in that final.
Things probably worked out for the best for all parties, with Marcos helping Palmeiras back to the top and Arsenal finding success with a different goalkeeper.