During the World Cup, in addition to focusing on the stories of our players representing their country, we are also highlighting the Gooners around the world who are cheering on their country.
Here, Deborah explains how her love of football returned to her native Brazil, which eventually led her to Arsenal, and ultimately football changed the course of her life forever:
I’ve always been very proud to be Brazilian, and football has been a big part of that since I was born. Football is almost like a religion to us growing up. I always say my home country is Brazil, even though I’ve been in the UK for almost 10 years now, because I still have family there. But now I also have family here – a husband and a daughter who have both nationalities. What we’re trying to do with her is that she learns to be proud of having two cultures and appreciates that she’s half-British and half-Brazilian.
Arsenal reunited me and my husband Tim. He always wrote about us and I commented on one and we started talking. I was in Brazil and he was in the UK, so I was like, ‘Well, nothing will happen between us’. Then I went to study in Portugal for a few months and came to London, and he took me to my first game at Arsenal. It was a terrible 3-2 defeat at Swansea on a very cold January night. I had an abysmal record of about 10 consecutive defeats for every away game I attended!
I haven’t been there that often since Eva was born, but I still watch. We always talk to him about Arsenal. She attended her first game – literally, the first shirt she wore when she was born was an Arsenal shirt. She was born the day after we won the FA Cup against Chelsea in 2020; I was literally in the hospital having labor pains and watching the game on an iPad! We won, and she was born hours later the next day.
My earliest memory of the World Cup is from 1994. I was only four years old, but I have very vague memories of Victory Day and everyone together in the living room watching it. My first great memory goes back to 2002, when I was 12 years old. It was such a special World Cup, because being in Japan and South Korea meant that some games were happening in the middle of the night. When we played England it was around 3.30am and we had a big party in the street. Someone brought a screen and all the neighbors watched together.
Even though my father and my brothers are passionate about football, my mother never really cared. However, I was really upset and cried every time Brazil lost at the World Cup, and it was always her who comforted me afterwards. This is the first World Cup where I no longer have my mother, so if Brazil lose, who will really comfort me afterwards? I told Tim that Eva can support England at the Euros but at the World Cups she has to support Brazil. That’s how it’s going to be in this house!
I’m sad that I’m not in Brazil right now because I’ll still be watching the World Cup with my dad and my brother. It’s sad not to have all that feeling of family and community anymore. I try to go to Brazilian bars, but now that I’m a mom, I don’t have as much free time as I would like. But at least I can build these new traditions with Eva instead, and she can learn all of this from me.
We made a lot of friends here, and now it’s even more special with the number of Brazilian players Arsenal have, which makes me very proud. Especially since they are so good! I love them all, and this past season has been really enjoyable, building an even stronger relationship between my country and Arsenal.
It’s very random how I came to support Arsenal. It was 2009, and some of my closest friends started watching the Premier League, and they were like, ‘pick a team’. At Euro 2008 I fell in love with Andrey Arshavin and wanted to watch the team he was in. Fortunately, he signed for Arsenal – he almost almost signed for Tottenham, and that would have been a whole different story for me!
After that, my fandom took on a life of its own. I didn’t expect it to literally change my life. Through Arsenal, I met my husband, then had my daughter – all because of a very random signing of Andrey Arshavin in 2009.
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