Farewell Gilberto, the 'Invisble Wall'

When Arsene Wenger first enjoyed success at Arsenal, it was based on two things: re-invigorating an already impressive, if somewhat aging defence, and protecting it.

Step up Patrick Vieira and Manu Petit, who formed a barrier few defences could breach. That both players knew how to pass the ball as well as break up opposition attacks gave Arsenal an edge over the opposition and started the legacy Wenger has created.

When Petit left, other players stepped in, but it was not until Gilberto Silva, the 'Invisible Wall' as he is known in Brazil, joined the club after the 2002 World Cup, that we again showed the steel that previous Arsenal sides had been renowned for.

Gilberto's absence for seven months during the 2004/5 season underlined how important a role he played at the club, his absence coinciding with a loss of form for the team.

While it was predictable that Thierry Henry should be given the captain's armband, as much for reasons of ego and team unity as for his leadership qualities (!), when he left and Gilberto was overlooked once again, the writing was on the wall.

It was clear to see last season that Gilberto's form had dipped as much as his pride must have been knocked by being the captain of Brazil, one of the top footballing nations in the world - and yet not of his club side. And who can blame him?

But it says much about the player that not once did he moan or criticise the club when others may have done so.

His talents may have waned last season, but his experience could have proved invaluable next season, especially with such a young midfield to guide and nurture.

But it was not to be. This afternoon, Gilberto completed his move to Greek side Panathinaikos and no doubt will prove to be a magnificent signing for them.

A player of dignity and professionalism of the highest order, Gilberto was the true definition of "Champion". And that goes beyond how many titles and trophies he has won.