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Edu comes to Arsenal. Why this is the moment when everything happens

By Tony Attwood

It’s now become quite a famous tale: Edu joined us in 2000, but never arrived because, (so the story goes) he had a fake passport.   Which was very odd, since the fake was said to be Portuguese, and Edu had no link with Portugal other than speaking a Brazilian version of the lingo.  And besides he qualified for an EU passport because of having Italian grandparents.    Was that a true story about the fake passport, or was it that Edu  was an innocent victim of a dupe, or was it (heaven forbid!) just another story that some deadbeat scribbler made up.

Certainly the tale as written makes Edu look pretty dumb – like a real stupid footballer who is told by his agent, “here, use this passport, it’s my mate’s but I’ve stuck your picture over the top of his.  Don’t worry about it, everyone does it these days.  Those guys at London are so dumb – they won’t know – they think all foreigners are just, well, foreign, and they won’t have anyone at the airport speaking anything but English.”

So the basic story of the fake passport is on Edu’s Wiki page along with the tell tale sign: [citation needed] And when you see that on a Wiki page, then it does tell you something.  If one of the infinite number of typing monkeys who run the Wiki football pages can’t find a source, but leaves the story up, it tells you that the story is not only possibly untrue, but has been placed and ok’d by someone who quite likes anti-Arsenal stories.

Therefore let us try and uncover a bit of the damage with some real stuff about the guy.  He first emerged outside of being a player by becoming sporting director of Corinthians. No prelims – just a straight leap up.  And that Corinthians knew what they were doing is shown by the fact that the club then won the Copa  Libertadores for the first time, which in South American terms is just about as big as it gets.

Indeed so highly regarded did he become, he was then poached by the Brazilian national team to do the same job for them.

So what did he do in these jobs that got everyone so very, very impressed?

First, it seems that takes an overview of recruitment – so not just looking for guys who are very good on the pitch, but guys who will fit into the style of play and approach of the team, who will fit in with the team, and complement the players already in place. Which probably includes disciplinary issues, gambling habits, family issues and the like.

Second, he has the job of taking that style and approach to football and making sure that it is replicated all the way through the club or country’s team. Thus the culture and style of play goes from the youth teams to the first team and no one steps out of that culture.   And this is where Arsenal background comes in handy.  He was, after all, an Invincible.

As Raul Sanllehi said recently, “The technical director has to bring the sporting philosophy of the club. The head coach is more the short-term position. The technical director has to safeguard the medium and the long-term vision of the club.”

And here is one interesting thought.  Because of his success from the very start, while Edu was at Corinthians he was given a level of financial support to bring in players that no previous director of football (or similar position) at Corinthians has ever had.   He also built up a reputation for discovering unknown players from little known teams.   Does that remind you of anyone?   A man you’ve never heard of coming in from a club you’ve also probably not heard of?

What’s more a lot of Corinthian players were signed for modest fees and sold on for big profits – which may not be what Arsenal supporters want to hear (for after all that was another Wenger trait during the austerity years) but it might well be exactly what the owner is looking for.   Gil, Fabian Balbuena and Felipe all come into this mould.

Now quite a few people might be able to claim this sort of buy and move on approach, but what Edu did at the same time, was to develop the academy at Corinthians’.

So this was the background of Edu when the national team came knocking at the door, and the meteoric rise of the player turned administrator continued.

With the national team Edu joined a former manager of Corinthians, Tite.   And that partnership reached near legendary status as the two men seemed to have the perfect working relationship.  Speaking of this Edu said, “Tite thinks about the essence of it, which is on the field, and I think what is essential to it. I do the work he does not like with his head. We decided everything together. We joked about it. There are times when he is the boss. In others, I am the boss.”   As a result Brazil have headed back towards the top in world football.

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