“They have already named a road after him” I heard one fan say as we walked down St Thomas’ Road. It was the 30th December 2000 and we had just seen Lithuanian striker Tomas Danilevičius make an 11 minute cameo debut in a 2-2 home draw with Sunderland.
The summer of 2000, Arsenal gave a trial to a 22 year old Lithuanian giant. Tomas Danilevičius was 6ft 3in, He was strong, quick, and had great feet for a big man. His trial game was against Barcelona, where he scored a fabulous goal.
It took Arsenal until December of that year to complete a deal for him, Danilevičius joining the club from Swiss club Lausanne. It looked like Arsene Wenger had unearthed another star.
After an impressive debut, Danilevičius only went on to play another 35 minutes for Arsenal; 26 minutes against Charlton in the League, and 9 minutes in an FA Cup 3rd round tie against Carlisle.
In total, Danilevičius’ Arsenal career accumulated a grand total of 46 minutes, spread across the 3 games.
Danilevičius begun his career in his home country, coming through the youth set up Baltai before joining FK Atlantas (who’s other notable player is AFC Wimbledon’s Adebayo Akinfenwa). At just 18, he joined Bereven in Belgium, before a 3 year journey taking him to Moscow, back to Belgium to join Club Brugge, to Laussane, ended with him signing for Arsenal.
So just what happened to this ‘wonder kid’.
Having failed to make the grade at Arsenal in his first 12 months, Danilevičius was loaned out to Scottish club Dunfermline Athletic, before being returning to Bereven in 2001. He then went on to become a bit of a journeyman in Italy, playing for 8 clubs in 12 years.
A bit of research into his history at Arsenal shows that it was discovered that Danilevičius had joined Arsenal using a fake Greek passport – these were the days before Lithuania were in the EU. This shortly after Silvinhio’s passport was discovered to be questionable.
Arsenal were not found to be at fault for employing Danilevičius as they were found to have acted in good faith, and the club moved him on quickly and quietly.
With 19 goals from 71 caps, Danilevičius is Lithuania’s record goal scorer. He retired in 2014.