Denilson was unhappy on a personal level during his time with Arsenal, but he still gushes with praise when it comes to his time under Arsene Wenger.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 06: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says goodbye to the Arsenal fans after 22 years at the helm at the end of the Premier League match between Arsenal and Burnley at Emirates Stadium on May 6, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says goodbye to the Arsenal fans on May 6, 2018. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Speaking to The Athletic, Denilson explained the personal issues he had during his time with Arsenal. It’s clear that regardless of what was happening on the pitch and the training ground, he just never settled in North London.

Nonetheless, there were people who did their very best to help him adapt. One of those was fellow Brazilian Gilberto Silva, and the other – unsurprisingly – was Arsene Wenger.

“My grandchildren are going to know exactly who Arsene Wenger was,” Denilson told The Athletic. “I say that because he really helped me on a personal level.

“We worked a lot on tactics and my technique, which really improved, especially my passing. But he also made a difference away from the pitch. He knew I was alone in London. I went to England with my agent at the time, but I was on my own a lot.

“Wenger would call me into his office for a chat every now and then, to ask me how I was doing. He really cared about me as a person, which made a real impression on me.

“For me, he’s not just an excellent coach. He’s the best I ever worked with, not because he is a big name or because he spent so many years at Arsenal, but because of the way he treated me.”

Unfortunately, it still didn’t quite work out for the midfielder. His form started to slip as he struggled mentally with Arsenal, then he returned to Brazil. At first, he spent a couple of seasons on loan with Sao Paulo, before joining permanently in 2013.

What happened to Denilson after that?

Denilson with Al Wahda

Denilson spent a few years with Sao Paulo before moving to UAE club Al Wahda FC. A year later, he moved back to Brazil on loan with Cruzeiro, but they didn’t take up their option to buy him.

Unfortunately, injuries really hit him hard after that. He had knee surgery in 2017, leading to Al Wahda eventually terminating his contract. He joined Botafogo in 2019, but only made one appearance as a substitute before further injury problems.

At 32, Denilson still isn’t ready to retire. He tells The Athletic he thinks he has another five years in him. He’ll have to take things step-by-step to achieve that goal, though.