It was like I still play for the Gunners, says Eduardo after Emirates return

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The Independent Online

Eduardo felt like he had never left after receiving a warm reception from Arsenal fans during Tuesday night's game against Shakhtar Donetsk, when they celebrated his consolation goal as if it was for the home side.

The 27-year-old Croatian forward headed to Ukraine in a £6m deal last summer after finding himself down the Gunners' pecking order, behind the free-transfer signing Marouane Chamakh. The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, found it emotional to see the Brazil-born striker leave, after he had fought back to full fitness following a horrific broken leg and dislocated ankle at Birmingham in February 2008.

Eduardo had vowed not to celebrate should he get on the scoresheet against his old club – and was true to his word when netting a fine volley with seven minutes left after coming off the bench.

The Gunners' fans, however, created a unique moment of sportsmanship in applauding the goal, which clearly touched the striker, whom Arsenal signed from Dynamo Zagreb in July 2007 for a reported £7.5m.

"It was unbelievable," Eduardo said. "It was like I still play for Arsenal, when I came back and they started to call my name. It was fantastic. It was already 5-0, so that [not celebrating] was normal.

"But I was here for three years, had some great times with the manager, the players and the supporters, so I must respect this. I will continue to watch every Arsenal game on TV when I can.

"Now, though, I am a Shakhtar player and will give all best for them, like I did for Arsenal."

On Shakhtar's heavy defeat, he said: "We prepared well before the game, but on the pitch we did not do what we had to do. But that is Arsenal – they are favourites to win against every team which comes here."

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