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Denilson failed to live up to the hype at Arsenal (Picture: Getty Images)

Former Arsenal midfielder Denilson has admitted he ‘suffered a lot’ during his seven-year spell at the club, and not even Arsene Wenger could save him.

The Gunners signed the Brazilian midfielder from Sao Paolo in 2006, and at the time was regarded as one of the rising talents in South American football.

Despite one successful Premier League campaign in 2008-9, Denilson failed to live up to the billing, and played his last game for the north London club in 2011, before returning to his native Brazil two years later.

The 32-year-old, who last played for Botafogo in 2019, says legendary Gunners boss Wenger tried everything he could to resurrect his career, but personal struggles off the pitch made it impossible.

Denilson told The Athletic: ‘My grandchildren are going to know exactly who Arsene Wenger was. 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.

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Wenger tried to offer a helping hand to Denilson (Picture: Getty Images)

‘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.

‘Normally, a coach doesn’t care how a player is. It’s, ‘Sod it, I want him to do his job.’ End of conversation. But he showed a great deal of concern and kindness to me.

‘So 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.’

Denilson suffered from homesickness during his time in north London, and admitted he has ‘never been back to England’ since his departure.

He added: ‘I suffered a lot, honestly. In the first year, everything was new to me, but from the second or third year I found it all a lot more difficult. The routine started to affect me more.

‘The weather was depressing. The people… I lived in St Albans, in an estate with five houses, and I didn’t know a single one of my neighbours. Sometimes I flew friends over to stay with me, but it wasn’t the same thing. I felt low, and I couldn’t focus 100 per cent on my work.

‘I wanted people around me, loved ones: my dad, my brothers and sister. My form really fell off a cliff, and that was down to the psychological side of things. There were some good moments during those five years, but I wasn’t able to produce what I was capable of.’

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