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