Gilberto Aparecido da Silva (born October 7, 1976 in Lagoa da
Prata, Brazil) is a Brazilian national football player who plays
for Arsenal as a midfielder.
Before he joined Arsenal on August 7, 2002 for £4.5million, he
played for América-MG and Atlético Mineiro. He had just won the
2002 World Cup with Brazil, playing in every match of the
tournament, including the final.
He made his Arsenal debut as a substitute in the second half of
the FA Community Shield against Liverpool, scoring the winning
goal but also receiving a yellow card for a misdemeanour during
Gilberto immediately became a regular in the Arsenal side, being
a near ever-present in 2002-03, and winning an FA Cup winners'
medal. On September 25, 2002, he managed to set a record for the
fastest goal in the UEFA Champions League, scoring after 19.4
seconds against PSV Eindhoven.
2003-04 was an even better season for Gilberto, as Arsenal won
the FA Premier League title undefeated; he played in 32 of
Arsenal's 38-match unbeaten run. However, he injured his back at
start of the 2004-05 season and was out for several months; he
made a return late in the season and helped Arsenal reach
runners-up place in the Premiership and win the FA Cup against
Manchester United, 5-4 on penalties.
Silva is often called "the invisible wall" in Brazil. This is
because his play often goes unnoticed, as he positions himself
very deep in the midfield, breaking up opposition attacks before
they gather momentum. In this role, he is the first line of
defence for both club and country. As Arsenal and Brazil are
both notoriously attack minded, he offers cover for attacking
wing-backs and other midfielders, such as Robert Pirès, who have
a poor record of dropping back to help the defence.