Date:Tuesday February 17 2009
A little under 12 months ago Arsenal players and supporters looked on in horror as fan favorite, Eduardo Da Silva, lay on a football pitch in Birmingham with his leg shattered and his career in tatters.
In an emotional match that the Gunners went on to blow in the final seconds, Eduardo had been on the receiving of a Martin Taylor high challenge with left his foot seemingly hanging on only by his football sock. Many people (myself included) feared the worst for the player, some concerned he may be lucky to walk again, never mind play football.
Eduardo had only been at Arsenal for less than a season but his work ethic and clinical finishing had made him a firm favorite in the red and white half of North London, indeed everything we'd learned about the player made his injury all the more difficult to bare.
However over the next 12 months Arsenal fans would learn of another Eduardo trait, a trait that would see the Striker pick himself up from the depths of despair and drag himself kicking and screaming back on to a football pitch in a time period few could have possibly dreamed. Strength of mind.
Everyone with even a slight interest in Arsenal Football Club had spent the last 12 months lapping up every article from Arsenal.com that gave the slightest shred of information on the recovery of Eduardo Da Silva, and with each article, the dream of seeing Dudu pull on the red and white once again inched that tiny bit closer.
When the day finally came for Eddie to take to the pitch again a massive crowd took to Barnet's Underhill stadium in the hope of seeing the fallen hero stick one in the onion bag once again, he came close, but in honesty it was like watching a cup final just to see him kicking a ball.
Eduardo's competitive comeback came (a little disappointingly for Arsenal fans, but not really ... if you know what I mean) for his International team, Croatia. Dudu came off the bench in a 2-1 victory over Romania and even claimed a hand in the winning goal, the signs were there that his Arsenal return wasn't far away and that the wily striker hadn't lost any of his skill.
When Arsenal drew 0-0 with Cardiff at Ninnian Park, we all scoffed at the side's poor efforts, however it now appears that was a blessing in disguise. A Monday night replay gave Arsene Wenger the perfect opportunity to thrust Eduardo back into the limelight in a relatively low risk game.
Edurado seized his chance with both hands and drop kicked it into the back of the net.
When Eddie played a sumptuous one-two with Mexican whizzkid Carlos Vela nobody was really surprised to see him nod in the return, football has a habit of producing these kind of fairy tales, but the emotion was there for all to see. Eduardo ran to the corner flag, sliding on his knees and accepting the accolades of his team mates, the fans and the watching world.
I didn't cheer when the ball nestled in Cardiff's net, I simply rose to my feet, arms outstretched and nodded repeatedly in Eduardo's direction, almost shedding a tear to match that of the strikers.
After the game Arsene Wenger said of Eduardo 'this guy is small but has the mental strength of a mountain.'
The mountain has now conquered his Everest.
Date:Tuesday February 17 2009
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