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Wellington Silva: How the Arsenal hopeful suffered SHAMEFUL treatment by FA

You really hope Wellington Silva is given at least a year with Arsenal before Arsene Wenger passes judgment.

After four years on Arsenal's books, spending time on-loan with five clubs up and down Spain, Wellington now has his European passport and expects to return to London Colney this summer for his first preseason as an official Gunners player.

By his own admission, when leaving Fluminense back in 2011, Wellington never expected the journey he's been forced to experience.

"I had no idea when I first went (to Arsenal)," recalls the 22 year-old. "I was dreaming of playing there. Then after a month, they asked me into the office to talk and said that my visa had not been accepted and I would have to be loaned.

"I had to go through this process. It was not what I expected."

Wellington's relationship with Arsenal goes as far back as 2008. At 15 and identified by the club's Brazilian scouts, he was invited for a month's trial at the Arsenal academy, where he impressed all. A year later, the Gunners and Flu had settled on a £3.5 million fee for the 16 year-old, who would be making a goalscoring senior debut just a month later.

Wellington would spend the next two seasons with Flu, though jetting back and forth to London to work with the Arsenal squad. The Gunners also assigned the teen an English tutor in the expectation he'd be part of Wenger's senior squad when he turned 18.

In January 2010, Wellington was convinced he'd made it. He was training with the senior Arsenal squad, had scored three times in two friendlies and looked Premier League ready. But then in came the bumbling, fumbling FA, who, after awarding Wellington a 'Special Talent' visa, pulled the rug from under him and rejected the final application.

Over five years on, the attacker is now preparing to finally kickstart his Arsenal career out of neutral.

"I've tried to look at this in the best way possible. It was normal at the time that I felt hurt. I thought of going home, to be close to my family. But I kept reminding myself of my goals and dreams.

"I accepted the challenge to stay here to get the European passport. Today I can say that the experience was good for my growth, as I arrived in Europe at only 18 years of age."

Currently with Almeria in Spain's Primera Division, Wellington's form hasn't gone unnoticed back home, where he earned a first call-up to Brazil's Olympics squad this month.

"I was not expecting it, and I was very happy. I thank (coach Alexandre) Gallo for the opportunity. I want do my best and help the national team," says Wellington.

"With Almeria, I've had the chance to play a lot of games, more often than not for the full 90 minutes. I'm doing well and fortunately things are working out as I had planned."

Wellington admits having the chance to play against Barcelona this season was particularly special.

"To play against Barcelona is a special opportunity, mainly to play against a friend like Neymar. It is a partnership that began in 2009 in the Brazilian youth team, and hopefully it can be maintained and I can play alongside him in the Rio Olympics."

From Levante to Alcoyano, through Ponferradina to Murcia and now with Almeria, Arsenal have kept in stride with Wellington every step of the way.

"They've always followed my development. They have plenty of reports on me. They know me more than I know myself!"

Wellington's career on-loan has been well mapped out, building his game in the Segunda Division before realising his potential this season with an Almeria team that sit just above the dropzone.

"In the Segunda Division, the Liga is more balanced, they are all very strong games. The clubs do not have the structure of a Primera Division team, but have everything right. Over the years, I learned a lot, mainly to defend with the ball and without the ball.

"But in the Primera it is different. You play against the big clubs, it motivates you more."

Five years on from that heart-breaking decision, Wellington feels ready to claim what was his. Would those faceless suits inside the FA have it in them to tackle the same setback in such a determined way?

"I know I'm very calm. I'm not even sad about not having played for Arsenal yet. I know I needed this passport," adds Wellington. "God never fails. I'm working hard every day and know that things will happen for me."


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