England vs. Croatia, Thursday, 12 October 2006.

I was in a hotel room in Paris with a fine view of the Eiffel Tower. Shutterbug that I am, I weighed the options that stood before me – shoot (even more) pictures, pretend to enjoy snuggling with my ex-girlfriend/travel partner, or watch Croatia vs. England. You might think if you know me well enough that my true love, football, would win easily. But it wasn’t AFC vs. who ever, it was shapeless England and their sorry manager Steve McClaren. Truthfully, the ex had almost no chance. It had reached that point. Plus, I had already shot the tower from every possible angle.

I decided to watch the match. Right away I noticed that Croatia had a very non-Croatian looking player up front. OK, no big deal. Asamoah and Olisadebe lined up for Germany and Poland respectively and they were clearly not German or Polish. So why couldn’t Brazil-born Eduardo line up for Croatia?!?! He impressed me instantly with his touch and intelligent movement off the ball. And in the 61st minute, he impressed Paul Robinson.

Sixteen months later, Eduardo da Silva was in the Arsenal lineup to face Birmingham City. Several things annoyed me on 23 February, 2008. Not least of course was that horrible challenge by “Tiny” on our star striker. In no way am I comparing what he went through with what happened to me when I was 19. But I did suffer the same injury, to the same leg, and did eventually play again. Eduardo has come back from almost losing his leg. He has returned to playing football, to doing what he loves, to being able to put smiles on our faces once again. I am and all football fans should be thankful. His return was no small feat.

I can hardly wait until he scores his first goal for the first team. And is it folly or classy for Mr. Wenger to allow Slaven Bilic to select the player for Croatia’s upcoming friendly vs. Romania? Surely Arsene could be forgiven if he’d opted to keep the player protected a bit longer after that traumatic experience.

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