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Eduardo, the final salute

By Walter Broeckx

I could hardly believe the news I heard today. They said you were leaving and that you were going away. So I had to go to Arsenal.com and there it was red on white: Eduardo joins Shakhtar Donetsk.

Well to be honest I could believe it. And most of all I could understand it.

I remember when TH14 left us and Arsène Wenger pulled you out of the hat. Eduarwho was the reaction of many supporters and I admit that this included me. I had hardly heard of him before he joined us. But who am I to know all the players in Europe or in the world? Arsenal does know them because of their world wide scouting system and they had found you and brought you in.

At first it was difficult. To come from the Croatian league to the EPL is a very big step and it takes time to adapt. And it took you some time to adapt. But what was clear was that you were a player who had a good scoring record but also a player who could link up with the other players. A player who had an eye for the teammate. And one of the things you had was that awareness that you cannot learn: being on the right spot at the right time. This is something that you have or you don’t have, and Eduardo had it.

Wenger gave you the time to learn the EPL and he even played you in the Carling cup where you scored some great goals in that 2-3 victory against Blackburn on that cold evening. And from then on it got better and better. Goals against City, the goals against Burnley in the FA cup.

I remember a match commentator shortly after that saying after you finally had missed a chance: ‘So Eduardo can miss a chance’. This summed you up in January. You had made the transition from the Croatian League to the EPL and people recognized why Wenger had bought you. It looked like a fairy tale coming real.

Most of the real Arsenal supporters remember that fatal day in February in Birmingham. I still remember it and I think I will never forget it. It was one of the last games I did not see live of The Arsenal.  I remember waiting for one of my sons to have finished his match as a ref to drive him home. And I knew that another son was sitting at home to see the game. And mostly he sends me the half time score or the final score when the game is over.

But he didn’t send me any messages. I felt something was wrong. Had they lost? In a way they hadn’t lost but in the same time they had lost it all.  When I came home my son was speechless. When I asked him have they lost? He couldn’t answer me but to show me the pictures he had ready on the website with the terrible and horrific injury that happened to Eduardo.

I’m a grown up men, standing in the middle of my life, and I think I can say that I am rather down to earth and not that easy shaken up by something. But those pictures did hurt me as deep as can be. Not only because I have had a similar accident on a football field, but most of all because it happened to him. Eduardo, that quiet player always with a friendly smile on his face. Those eyes who always looked friendly at the world. Not him.

But it did happen to him. And I must admit that from the first moment I thought this would be the end for him. It was for me some 30 years ago and I realized the hard way he would go through in the next months. I also knew that getting physical ready was in fact the easy part. But the mental side of the injury would be the hardest hurdle to come by.

But he showed remarkable character by coming back. I was in the Emirates when he came to the field at the Emirates cup and I admit that it brought tears in my eyes to see him there. And I must admit that I was very emotional when he came back on the pitch for the very first time after his injury. And I can admit that when he scored his first goal after his comeback that I again had tears in my eyes again. I think I never celebrated a goal so intensely. I was so happy for him and I wanted him to get back to his very best form. And for a moment I thought he would come good completely when he scored that amazing volley against Burnley. This was the Eduardo we knew from before the incident.

But what I feared somewhere down deep inside did happen. At first I saw it in glimpses. You sometimes could see a slight moment of hesitation in his play. And I noticed it more and more. It is something that happened to me when I started playing again some 25 years after I had stopped after my broken leg. I could see his brains looking for safety. I could see him hesitate and take the safe road. And it became more visible even for the people who never went through such an injury.

He still had that notion of where to be when the cross came in but when the ball felt to his feet you could see him freeze. When he tried to shoot on goal and a tackle came in he lifted his standing leg to be sure that the tackle wouldn’t hit him while standing firm in the ground. But by doing this he unbalanced himself and his shots flew not in goal and were not hard enough.

Again I could have cried for this as I knew it would spell the end for Eduardo not only as an Arsenal player but also maybe as a football player in general. So Shakhtar Donetsk is giving Eduardo a new chance. I really hope for him that by going away from some of those criminals that play in the EPL he can find back the peace in his mind. I hope he can ban the fear from his head and stay firm on his feet when shooting at goal. I really hope that we can see his big smile back on his face when he plays there and scores the goals he wanted to give us.

I think no one at Arsenal or with the fans will blame him for trying his luck in another league. I think most of us find it sad that it had to end this way. We find it sad that the fans cannot wave him goodbye in the way like he deserved a proper goodbye. So we can only feel happy for him and hope that he finds a new footballing life in his new club and wish him well. And we can, once again, feel very sad and angry for that *********, ************ b*****d whose name I don’t want to mention anymore, who destroyed a very promising career before it really had started.

Eduardo, from the bottom of my heart I can only say to  you in English, Portuguese your mother language and in Croatian, the language of your new adapted country  :

Thanks, Goodbye and Good luck

Obrigado, Adeus e boa sorte

Hvala, Zbogom i sretno

———————–

Untold Arsenal

Woolwich Arsenal

42 comments to Eduardo, the final salute

  • avatar walter

    This just came on Arsenal.com, a final message from Eduardo and if you don’t mind I will post it here:
    “Before I start a new chapter in my career with Shakhtar Donetsk, I just wanted to send a message to all my friends at Arsenal.

    “The past few days have been very emotional for me. Although I am excited about the challenge ahead with my new club Shakhtar Donetsk, I am so sad to be leaving my home for the past three years – Arsenal Football Club.

    “Arsenal is a very special football club and I will miss so many people – my team mates, all the staff and of course, the wonderful Arsenal supporters.

    “I would just like to thank everyone for your support during my time at Arsenal. When I first came to England, I could not speak the language and knew nobody, but as soon as I arrived I was made to feel at home and part of this big family. Also, I want to say thank you to the Arsenal supporters – you have been fantastic to me and always sung my name and I will never forget this.

    “I had some very difficult times with my injury, but Arsenal was always there for me – the medical staff, the management, the players and the supporters. Thank you everybody.

    “Although I have now left the Club, Arsenal will always be in my heart. I will always look for the Arsenal results and of course, I wish Arsène Wenger and the great players at the Club well for next season and the future.”

  • avatar Timern

    Sad to see him go=) Wish you all the best Eddie! Great piece of writing Walter!

  • avatar Timern

    Of course not =) but =(

  • avatar critic

    another person leaving arsenal….and u still won’t agree arsenal is a feeder club, with a manager which can’t handle personalities….soon fabregas will leave, doesn’t matter if this summer or the next….and no one in the arsenal have the gut to confront barcelona and stop their public poaching and unsetteling of fabregas….disgusting…

  • avatar IndianGooner

    Eduardo is a special player for me due to his coolness in front of goal. And more so after his injury. I’ve never felt this sad when an Arsenal player left not even when Titi/PV4 left or when my favorite player of all time DB10 retired.

    I just want to say ‘Thanks for the memories, Dudu’. I’ll never forget your 2 goals away at Everton(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygunNWJ7MP8 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljDt7zA22hc) before the injury.

    I wish you all the best and hope you return to your best form at Shakhtar.

  • avatar Travis

    Reading these messages from Eduardo, I can’t hold my tear any longer. What a man! What a personality! Wish him very best for his career.

    You will always have our support and warm embrace like an Arsenal legend.

  • avatar Praaam

    Eduardo, you are a legend. All Arsenal fans will miss you. All the best, hope you find your old form and confidence in a new league where footballers are respected.

  • avatar notlager

    Thank you Dudu, and thank you Walter for this article.

    And Tony can you ban this ‘critic’ idiot.

  • avatar Matt

    Very sad to see him leave but I’m not shocked he has…. he hasn’t been half the player he was since the attempted murder!! I was hoping he’d return & be on the road to his former self but unfortunately this wasn’t the case :( ….I do wish him all the luck in the world & hope he can have a great remainder of his career. We’ll miss yuo Eduardo – All the best

  • avatar Leon

    I will surely miss you! This guy was going to be one of our best strikers, but that injury put a dent into that. I wish him all the best

  • I just want to say big Goodbye to my lovely player Eduardo. Goodbye guy.

  • avatar AaronGSi

    The message he left with Arsenal.com was both touching and a mark of an outstanding individual and I am sure that Donetsk will get a very very good addition to their squad.
    In some ways, its just such a shame that Arsenal now play 4-3-3 / 4-5-1, because if we were still mainly using 4-4-2 then his move would never have been on the cards. Fact is, he is a second striker of tremendous guile who plays around and off the main front man, and not a left wing-forward. Shakhtar are 4-4-2 side (they use a diamond formation a lot), so he will fit perfectly into their system as he once did with us. So all the best Eduardo, and thanks for some wonderful football moments during your time with the Arsenal. You’ll always have a place in our hearts.

  • avatar bonggo

    its just so sad 2 see him end his time at arsenal like this..
    wish him all the best for his new chapter in football at ukraine.
    thank u dudu..

  • avatar walter

    Critic,
    every football club is a “feeder” club. Even MIOU feeded Ronaldo to Madrid. It is part of football.
    In this case the sad thing is that things could have been different if it wasn’t for that sad day in February. He could have given us many more goals.
    I think if Wenger would have played him a few games and if he hadn’t scored you would go out and tell people that we must sell him as he is no good anymore.

  • avatar Fem Dee

    Dudu, thanks not just for the classy goals but for class when and where it matters: in the face of personal adversity; in the face of unjustified uproar against your fairness and honesty as a player; to a country and footballing culture that never quite apologized for the bad they do you and your career and, most of all, to a club and its supporters that wanted the best for you, felt your pains and continues to wish you the very best in your footballing future.
    I pray that you get to visit The Emirates one day again – to ply your skill as a professional footballer against Arsenal. Then, we shall all rise up as one to show you the love we will always have for you – even at the risk of conceding a goal to you. However, if you must score against us, make sure it is in the 89th minute and with the game 3-0 in our favor; make sure it is one of classiest goals ever (smiles).

  • avatar redjim

    Very sad…..great guy! Really hope his career can soon shape up to what it would’ve been before that horrible day. All the very best, Dudu

  • avatar Bobby Pliers

    I will always remember Eduardo for the wonderful goal against Burnley in the FA Cup shortly after he returned from the horrific injury. The fact that he could score a goal of such quality after the injury is testament to the special talent that he was.

  • avatar gooner80

    I remember Eduardo coming back from his injury and the crowd screaming EDUARDO EDUARDO that sent chills down my spine.

    i will never remember the shell of the player after the injury but the player who was so clincal I thouught he could not miss, one of the best natural finishers I have seen and for a small guy a great header of the ball.

    if it was gerrard or another english player who suffered this injury something would have been done, the tackle from behind was outlawed because it ended Van bastens career, whether you get the ball or not, if the challenge is reckless and overly aggressive you should be sent off and the 3 game ban is not enough.

    I am just angry and deeply saddened by this I cant put it into words how I feel about Eduardo leaving

    Eduardo You are a legend in my EYES and Im sorry what the english game has done to you. I will never forget you

  • avatar Abere, Nigeria

    Wish you all the best buddy. I actually wish you were able to make a mark after returning from the injury. Its a pity it takes time and with the reduced squad number, you just have to leave for the interest on both parties( You and Arsenal). I wish you all the best plus am trying to hold back these tears. God help you E9.

  • avatar Otariq

    Very sad to see him leave especially after what happen to him. I can only hope that Ramsey will be strong enough to over come his injury and fears. People have to wonder why it’s is taking Diaby so lone to come into his own, we must also remember he has been down this road before and is finally trying to turn it around.

  • avatar FEDDA

    A player with class. Will never forget how he single handedly turned 2-0 to 2-3 away against everton when we were 1 man down with 2 excellent and icy finishes. Good luck dudu

  • avatar Sean Spillane

    Critic…your an idiot or a Spuds fan…probably both.

  • avatar Hartwick89

    Walter,

    Nice tribute!

    I disagree with his current value. For once I disagree with AW. He should have pushed Eduardo back into the starting line-up…Oh well.
    Maybe AW did not have the stomach to see this injury happen again on his watch…
    At the end of the day the right thing is in place though. A great player who will play first team ball. Good luck Eduardo.. I will still keep my #9.

  • avatar AnonymousGun

    Blessed him and may he find his form.. Those that were robbed of him.

    He will always be welcome at Arsenal.

  • avatar Finsbury

    Thank you Walter.

    Yesterday, in a sombre mood, I sat down to watch The Damned United, directed by Tom Hooper.

    It was a good day to learn more about the rivalry between Don Revie and Brian Clough (with JET and Havard, and Jack, and Henry L. all providing some reflective context).

    Brian Clough tried to take over Don Revie’s infamous Leeds’ squad. He failed.
    Don Revie went on to fail as England Manager, no qualifiaction for the WC or EC. There was a scandal involving money too. The usual, predictable reasons.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYBj_qAJtRA&feature=channel

    Brian Clough (& P.Taylor) went on to be to win two succesive European Cups with a small provincial team, Nottingham Forest FC.

    He was never given the England job.

    (Bobby Robson was great, but Clough should’ve got the nod for the first half of that decade, when Robson wasn still working his way up).

  • avatar GoonerCanuck

    Fine writing Walter–a fitting and moving tribute to a great and classy player. It’s absolutely shameful that he was driven away by thuggery. All the best Eduardo; as Neil Young said…long may you run.

  • avatar RedGooner

    Thanks for the memories a great player who’s potential we never got to fully see will always appreciate his effort, good luck eduardo for the future.

    Critic are you myles palmer in disguise go and get a life or support another club.

  • avatar Paul C.

    Walter,

    Superb. As with most other Gooners, I also wish Eduardo a happy and successful career. Such a pity, but absolutely the right decision to sell him.

    Critic – what drugs are you on?

  • avatar AndyY

    Did you read that stupid article in the Daily Mail?
    Eduardo all the best!

  • avatar jason

    I still remember the moments where the tackle hit, watching it live and felt sick and gave me goosebumps, and i too asked why him? especially since he was showing great promise. Top Player and great finisher, he’ll be missed and will do well out side the epl, but we shouldn’t put him leaving all down to his injury the witch hunt that followed the champions league game against Celtic had to have been a contributing factor, as he was no longer Eduardo ‘the guy whos ankle was hanging off’ but Eduardo ‘the cheat who dived’ Not only was it negitive press but it also outlined his psylogocical problem (being his fear of being injured) for all to see.

    Non the less he was still a great player and would be a bonus to any team, can remember his first competitive game for the Gunners and noticed his tendency to blink which sometimes seemed uncontrolably(bit like Harry’del boy’Redknapp with his twitches), but after the injury this didn’t happen anymore.

    On his injury i got the same feeling rush through me for Ramsey, knew instantly it was another Eduardo type injury and was furious!! But it tends to be the norm against Arsenal now kick them, tackle hard and no remorse, good training technique for other teams right? Hope Ramsey returns a new player, better and stronger! and im confident he will.

    Good Luck Dudu

  • avatar Dec

    Arsenal FC have had many notable players over the years, from decent honest international class players like Eduardo to legends like Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry, Seaman and Adams. In all seriousness Eduardo’s exploits on the field in an Arsenal shirt could not ever earn him legendary status (in time he might have done, but he was cruelly robbed of the chance).
    As an absolutely BRILLIANT inspiration to everybody facing adversity, Eduardo has done far more than all the above combined. Eduardo’s response to that horrific day in Birmingham is a great example of how through sheer determination, commitment and hard work, even huge setbacks can be overcome. He may not be back to his best just yet, and he may or may not ever get there. I hope he does and Shaktar end up with the bargain of the decade. But the fact that he’s trying in such a positive way is a measure of the man. No doubt Aarron Ramsey was inspired and helped hugely by Eduardo’s example and many people the world over both inside and outside of football can be equally inspired to deal with their ‘Birminghams’.
    Thank you Eduardo, every best wish in your new challenge and when the legends of Arsenal Football Club are recalled, your’s should be the first name on the roll of honour.

  • avatar simon bailey

    Well said walter. I too am gutted that Dudu has left, but I wish him all the best in his new career at Shaktar. I too would welcome him back to the emirates to score against us. Good Luck Fella.

  • avatar shotta-gunna

    Amen Walter. You remind me of the fear I felt when I first noticed in an EPL match ( on satellite tv) that he was a step slower than he was before the injury. I remember posting my thoughts on ACLF to a chorus of criticism. But I don’t blame my comrades for wanting the best for Eduardo and trying to downplay the negatives. Like you and all true Arsenal fans, we know the true culprits are the thugs and thuggish mentality in English football that is glorified in the English press, who demonized the victim rather than Alex McLeish and his agent of terror. We lauded Dudu on his return to football and hoped against hope that he would be the lethal striker we all knew. Even though he is gone to Shakhtar, he goes with our blessings and best wishes.

  • I would like to thank Walter for writing this piece.

    I was dreading the news of Eduardo leaving – I really wanted him to stay and recover his utter brilliance, and when the rumours were finally confirmed I was deeply upset.

    Writing about Eduardo was not an option for me because I didn’t think I could possibly do him justice, and I feared anything I wrote would be mawkish and trite.

    So when Walter’s piece appeared ready for release on the site I was knocked out – he said everything I wanted to say, only much better than I could imagine.

    Eddie – you will stay in my thoughts long after other players have retreated to the background in my mind. I have a picture of you at home, on the wall, and you are one of only two players honoured in this way.

    Thank you for everything, and I am so utterly sorry that the evils of the EPL got you. Arsenal will remember you as long as there is an Arsenal. I will remember you as long as I am here.

    Thank you.

  • avatar Tazz

    Will remember him for making a staggering comeback & scoring ‘that’ backslap on his return. Truly a moment of genius, like him.

    If only he never got injured..

  • avatar Ole Gunner

    Thank you Walter for this. I hate goodbyes but this really edified the situation.

    I’m a Shakhtar Donetsk fan of sorts now. I’ll be watching them, and I will be watching Croatia.

    I hope he will still go on and fulfil his talent which really is immense.

  • avatar sam

    This 56-year-old man has tears in his eyes … great article and all the best, Eduardo … all Arsenal fans will miss your finishing and your class.

  • avatar Brickfields Gunners

    Nice tribute to a fine player ,Walter, we’re all going to miss him.A classy finisher who scored many memorable goals for us ,we will never forget him.I’m sure our paths will cross in the future – till then all the best Dudu – you the man.

  • avatar AnonymousGun

    out of curiosity Tony.. who is the other player?

  • avatar Clerkenwell Gooner

    God, I was there when he scored against Cardiff, and when he scored “that goal” against Burnley (sitting downstairs level with him when he hit it, could see the lightning flick of the heel, amazing!)

    After the Burnley goal, the crowd rose as one and sang his name for ages, unfortunately he ran to the other side of the pitch to celebrate (low key as always), a truly moving, wonderful moment.

    Such a talented player, he started out as real renard dans la boite, in the CL for us, and I thought he was getting it back this season (eg backheel through-pass away vs Portsmouth that led to a goal), his goal vs Hammers in the FA Cup, although he missed some chances too that he would have surely put away with his eyes shut pre-injury.

    I can only imagine what seeing Ramsey go down this season under another lunatic EPL challenge did to his confidence once more, and I hope the league he’s going to is not as rough. (And fxcking Howard Webb refusing to send off N de Jong for his kung-fu kick to Alonso’s chest in the World Cup Final says it all, really. I despair of English refs, yes I do.)

    With any luck, we’ll draw Shaktar in the CL (they gave Barça a run for their €€€€ last season), and Dudu’ll come back to London and play a blinder!

    We’ll always owe you, Eduardo, you were always fabulous for us, and I hope the best is yet to come for you now.

  • avatar The Law

    Critic, you’re a fucking idiot.