For Gabriel Martinelli the passion and the pain of football have always been closely aligned.
When he was young, at the family home in Guarulhos, Sao Paulo, when the ball was some kind of a best friend, he used to play near a bookcase with glass doors.
Every so often, Martinelli would kick the ball and break the glass pane, and his mother Elizabete would replace the glass and advise her boy: ‘My son, you’ll end up getting hurt.’
Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli has spoken out about his injury hell since last season
And he did. ‘One time, I was playing and, of course, the ball broke all the glass,’ Martinelli laughs. ‘A splinter from the glass got stuck in one of my feet and it hurt.
‘I still have the scar on my left foot to prove that it happened. But I didn’t stop playing. I kept playing. The only thing that changed was, after a while, mum stopped installing the glass there.’
The return of the Brazilian 19-year-old after six months out with a knee injury has been one of the most positive aspects of a gloomy start to the campaign for Arsenal. It coincided with an upturn in form for Mikel Arteta’s team and three much-needed wins on the spin.
His energy and…