Gone but not forgotten – Eduardo welcomed back a hero

Three weeks ago I sat amongst a group of morons in the Arsenal section at Chelsea aggrieved by our embarrassing offensive supporters. Tonight, back at the Emirates Stadium for a home match I couldn’t have been more proud.

When former professional footballers return to their previous clubs they seemingly get booed or cheered – there’s rarely a sense of indifference from fans. Players will get booed if they left the club in circumstances such as chasing more money or moving to a rival club. Eduardo Da Silva, the former Arsenal striker was in the other category – a player who always played his best for the club, but for whom both personally and for the club, it was better that he seek pastures new.

Arsenal fans stand to applaud as former striker Eduardo comes on as a substitute.

Eduardo almost undoubtedly pulls on the emotional strings of the Arsenal fans more than the average professional that has moved clubs, due to the horrific leg break he suffered whilst playing for Arsenal. If truth be told, despite glimpses of brilliance he rarely again showed the type of talent seen prior to the injury. It was a sad moment when he left the club with little fuss last summer, yet fans accepted he had always done his best for the club and everybody wished him well.

This evening Arsenal played some wonderful football as they swept aside Shakhter Donetsk 5-1 at the Emirates Stadium. It was fitting that Eduardo should get the goal for the Ukrainian opposition, a neat finish beyond Arsenal goalkeeper Fabianski.

Eduardo, not surprisingly given his tremendous character didn’t even smile following his goal, but put his head down and ran back to the centre circle, showing the actions of a true gentlemen.

I can’t imagine a situation where I will see a goal scored against Arsenal celebrated as much as his strike this evening. Almost to a person, the stadium stood up and applauded as if one of our strikers had just scored a crucial goal. Andy Gray, commentating on Sky Sports said he hadn’t seen like it before.

I felt proud to be an Arsenal fan once again – everything I love about the football club was summed up in the loud applause offered to the Croatian striker. We weren’t cheering that our team had conceded a goal, but were cheering that a professional who loved our football club and always gave his all, had found fortune away from the club and was still scoring goals after what was feared to be an injury he’d never recover from, suffered fighting for our club.

I was always taught Arsenal fans prided themselves on class – tonight pleasingly, it was shown in abundance and first shown by this reception Eduardo received when coming onto the pitch as a second half substitute.

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