When Dani Alves received his Tokyo Olympics gold medal after leading a Brazil team of players who were on average 15 years his junior to glory, he extended his record as the most decorated male footballer of all time with his 43rd winner’s medal in what has been a glittering career so far for the Brazilian right-back.
Dani Alves Adds Another Medal to Cabinet
Brazil Win at Tokyo Olympics
When a fresh-faced teenage Alves arrived in Sevilla on an initial loan in 2002, it resulted from the impact he had in his time in the Brazilian Serie A with Bahia. His performance in the 2003 FIFA U-20 World Cup earned him a permanent transfer to the Andalusian club. The Brazilian distinguished himself as an excellent right-back for Sevilla, attracting interest from English sides Liverpool and Chelsea before eventually completing a transfer to fellow La Liga side Barcelona in 2008. Alves won back-to-back UEFA Cup titles and the Copa del Rey once at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. His transfer to Camp Nou made him the third most expensive defender of all time. His arrival at the Nou Camp coincided with the most successful era in the club’s history.
Alves won the treble in his first season with Barcelona and added the FIFA Club World Cup, Supercopa de Espana and UEFA Super Cup in the next season. He was part of the team that won the second treble in the 2014/15 season, joining Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Lionel Messi, Pedro, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez as the only members of two treble-winning sides.
Alves’ domination of the right flank was a sight to behold for football lovers throughout his time at Barca. He was able to create a connection with Messi like no one had ever been able to, assisting the Argentine genius 38 times, a tally only bettered by Luis Suarez years later. His pinpoint runs and seemingly telepathic connection with Messi ripped opposition defences apart. He was a crucial cog in the wheel at FC Barcelona, earning a place in the annual FIFA FIFPro World XI in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016, before eventually leaving the club. He was also named in the UEFA Team of the Year in all three Champions League-winning years at Barcelona.
End of An Era
After Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan defeated Barcelona en route to winning the UEFA Champions League in 2010, the Portuguese manager revealed that the tactical tweak that gave his side an edge in the match was that he allowed Alves to remain isolated on the flank and put a man on him, preventing him from coming infield to combine well with Messi.
Alves played in Italy for Juventus, reaching the UEFA Champions League final at the end of his only season with the club in 2017. He then joined Paris Saint-Germain for two years after leaving Turin. Upon leaving the Parc des Princes, Alves was openly coveted by former boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City before announcing his decision to return to his native Brazil, where he joined up with boyhood club Sao Paulo. His time in Sau Paulo saw a change in his style of play as he was given the number 10 shirt at the club and a free role in midfield. He scored the lone goal on his debut against Ceara in a 1-0 win. He has since won the Paulista Championship with Sao Paulo.
On the international front, Alves won the Copa America twice in 2007 and as captain in 2019 with his native Brazil and the FIFA Confederation Cup twice in 2009 and 2013. His exploits over the years for the Selecao and Barcelona, especially, announced his greatness as a footballer. Eyebrows were raised when the 38-year-old defender was named as one of three overage players to represent Brazil at the Olympics, making Alves’ gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics all the more impressive simply because he played a total of 480 minutes at the competition, playing every single minute for the Brazil side, including consecutive extra times in the semifinal against Mexico and the final against Spain.
He received special congratulations from his good friend Lionel Messi over his achievement at the Argentine’s farewell press conference. Messi, who won his 38th trophy over the summer, announced that he intended to catch up to Alves in terms of trophies won. The only trophy left for the legendary right back now is the FIFA World Cup. With the tournament just around the corner in 2022, one cannot put it beyond Alves to be a part of the Brazil squad in Qatar. Undoubtedly, Alves is the greatest right-back of his generation, and one of the greatest to ever kick a ball.
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