Gabriel Paulista may not be at Arsenal any longer, but he’s brought the club up when speaking about his mother and childhood struggles.
Like many Brazilian footballers, the Valencia defender had a poor childhood and moving through the levels of professional football has enabled him to look after his family financially.
The 27 year old’s first professional club was Vitoria in Bahia. it’s not exactly somewhere paying high wages and Gabriel had to wait until he moved to Villarreal in 2013 before he could start making a big difference back home.
Quoted by Spanish newspaper AS, Gabriel explained: “When I was 18, I left home and went to play in Salvador de Bahía. But until I joined Villarreal I didn’t reform my mother’s house. As soon as I signed for Arsenal I bought a new house.”
The renovations, and ultimately a new house, will have been welcomed, with the former Arsenal player explaining some of the challenges his family faced when he was growing up: “We are five brothers. I was the one who suffered the least. I always listen to my mother’s stories. That gives me the strength to work. My brothers suffered a lot.
“They went hungry, the house was not good, it was made of wood and when it rained it filled with water. My mother fought for me to eat a good breakfast before going to training.”
Since moving to Valencia, Gabriel has been a key player for the Spanish side, starting 9 matches so far this season.