Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli paid tribute to Arsenal for helping him make the Brazil World Cup squad and opened up about being rejected by Manchester United and Barcelona.
Arsenal fans were not surprised, however.
Martinelli, who was once described by teammate Oleksandr Zinchenko as “incredible”, has registered five goals and two assists this term to help the Gunners secure a five-point lead at the summit of the Premier League.
But it could all have been so different. As a youngster Martinelli’s professional ambitions were dashed twice - the Brazilian was rejected after trials at Manchester United and Barcelona.
Martinelli expressed his gratitude to the Gunners for helping him achieve his World Cup dream, having been snubbed twice before.
Speaking to the Players Tribune: "When Tite did call me up, I was so emotional. Pô, you have no idea … I felt like I was living in some kind of parallel fantasy world. I owe so much to so many people, especially my parents. But I want to start by thanking my second family — Arsenal — because without you guys none of this would have been possible.
"I thank God that I came to Arsenal in 2019. I really believe that things happen for a reason, and I’m so happy here. It’s funny to look back now because I could so easily have ended up somewhere else.
“You see, I used to be part of this project at Manchester United. I was actually there for several trials. I even met many of the senior players. When I was 17, I had my last session there, so I went back to Brazil waiting for news.
"One day my dad called me into the living room. He had spoken to my agent and … well, United had said no. Not just, 'No, for this year.' But, 'No, we don’t want him. At all.'
"To be honest, I was shaken. They had seen me play several times, and I was sure they were going to sign me, you know?
“A few weeks later I got another trial, at Barcelona. I spent 15 days there. They didn’t want me either. That was easier to accept because it was just one trial. Still…."
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