Denilson Pereira Neves was not born of woman, nor was he named Denilson Pereira Neves. Called simply ‘Samba drumming boy’ Denilson started life as a giant wooden toy drummer designed by a Brazilian carpenter for carnival processions. Powered by a simple cog mechanism in his torso, when fully wound up Samba drumming boy was able to play drums and shake his head, hips and ankles for 3 hours and 38 minutes non-stop. No doubt his simple and happy existence (Samba drumming boy wore a permanent smile) would have continued until his cogs wore out, but one day in Rio the girl from Ipanema, tired of all the boys constantly going ‘ah’ when she passed by, fell in love with the innocent Samba drummer: she promptly tied him to the back of her bike and drove him to her parents’ home, hiding him in the garage. The girl, whose real name was Carlita, prayed to the Virgin Mary every day to make little Samba drumming boy come alive and marry her, a bit like Pygmalion (for our cultured readers) or Mannequin (for most of you). Carlita’s prayers were answered and for a short while Denilson Pereira Neves, as he was now christened, and the girl from Ipanema were very happy together. Unfortunately Carlita was also a crack cocaine addict and dealer and she died shortly afterwards from a chronic overdose. Poor Denilson was overwhelmed by grief, and was close to suicide when he met a disheveled, half-mad, oracle-spouting old man in one of Rio’s favelas. Pele advised Denilson not to throw his miraculous life away but to refocus his thoughts on something even purer than true love – football. To this day Denilson has remained loyal to his new calling, and with his clockwork-like engine and rhythmic passing the toy boy was soon on a plane to London to play for the greatest team in the world, Arsenal football club. Although his samba days are long over, Denilson does whip out his old dance moves whenever he’s cracked in another goal from 30 yards.

Sagna carries off Denilson for a rewind

Sagna carries off Denilson for a rewind

What Denilson brings to Arsenal

With Viera, Flamini and Gilberto Silva all leaving Arsenal in recent years, the team was left with little in the way of battling defensive midfielders – a gap that Arsene Wenger chose not to address in the transfer market but by bringing the likes of Denilson and teammate Alex Song through the ranks. Some would say DPN has been given too much responsibility too young, but no one can doubt the promise of the former U20 Brazil captain currently knocking on the door of their international squad. Very much growing in stature Denilson put in his best Arsenal performances towards the back of the 2009/2010 season where his touch and composure on the ball (he regularly boasts the best passing statistics on the team) and ability to put his foot in were an invaluable asset. Meanwhile Denilson’s goal threat is little spoken of, but with five goals last year (from 28 appearances in all competitions) – all from outside the area – his presence on the field offers a special threat to the opposition.

Denilson Player Profile

Full name: Denilson Pereira Neves
Nick name(s): DPN
Position: Defensive Midfielder
Height: 5′11″
Leftie/Rightie: Right
Strength: 5
Speed: 6
Stamina: 8
Passing: 9
Tackling: 7
Shooting: 8
Heading: 6
Dribbling: 6
Technique: 9
Grit: 6
Haircut: 7 (no nonsense).


Dipping swerving rocket-like shots that leave keepers no chance even from 30 yards. Samba celebration dances.

Achilles Heel:

Needs a bit more grit, spit and spunk if he’s gonna persuade Arsene and the Arsenal fans that he’s more than just a decent squad player. At 22 he has time on his side.

More info on Arsenal midfielder Denilson

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