Daniel Alves

Daniel Alves da Silva, better known nowadays simply as Dani Alves, was born on the 6th of May 1983 in Juazeiro, a city in eastern Brazil in the state of Bahia. Unlike the emerging young Brazilian stars such as the Robinhos, Marcelos or Patos, Alves led a fairly low key footballing life when he was starting out. In fact, it wasn’t until he was well past his 20s that he started to attain global acclaim and attention. He began his professional playing career with his modest hometown club, EC Bahia. But after spending just two seasons there, he made the inevitable leap across to Europe, joining a then-humble Sevilla FC in 2003 on loan during the winter transfer window. He made just nine appearances for the Spanish outfit but it was enough to convince club president José María del Nido to secure his services permanently for a mere €1 million. He also impressed enough to earn a place in Brazil’s under-20 squad for the World Youth Cup in the UAE that same year. Alves played a key role in helping the Seleção clinch their fourth title, beating Spain 1-0 in the final, and he was subsequently voted one of the best players of the tournament Slow Start After winning the second division title and earning promotion back to the top flight in 2001, Sevilla were seen as a resurgent and ambitious side, with president del Nido implementing grand plans to kick start a new era at the club. And Daniel Alves was to be part of that plan. Playing first under Joaquín Caparrós, the still unknown Alves would join a plethora of rising young stars, such as Sergio Ramos, José Antonio Reyes, Jesús Navas and the late Antonio Puerta in forming the foundations of a hugely talented squad that would soon take the world by storm. But he made an unassuming start in his first full season with Sevilla in the 2003/04 term. Overshadowed by Sergio Ramos, who had already cemented his place as the first choice right-back, Alves played largely as a right midfielder, making 29 appearances and scoring once. Much would be the same the following campaign but it was 2005 that would prove to be his breakthrough year. With Caparrós departing for Deportivo La Coruña, Juande Ramos was brought in to take the reigns. Employing a ruthlessly devastating attacking approach, it was a style of play which Alves would thoroughly relish and excel in as he made that attacking right-back role his own after it was vacated by Sergio Ramos, who had left to join Real Madrid. Rapid Rise It was the sensational 2005/06 UEFA Cup campaign that really catapulted Alves into superstardom. He was instrumental in helping the Andalucians steamroll their way past all-comers en route to the final where they trounced Premier League side Middlesbrough 4-0. His startling performances won him rave reviews from commentators, pundits, fans and peers alike and he was aptly named the most valuable player of the competition. A big money move to one of Europe’s superpowers seemed imminent after that barnstorming season, with every big club in the continent, from Real Madrid to Chelsea to Liverpool, chasing his signature. But both club and player resisted the temptation and he decided to stay on. His loyalty was rewarded with a massive contract extension that would tie him to the Andaluz outfit until 2012. Alves’ stellar 2006 culminated with a debut for the senior Brazilian team when he appeared as a substitute in a friendly against Ecuador in October 2006. In the summer of the following year, he went on to win his second international title when the Seleção lifted the 2007 Copa América for the eighth time. Despite playing just a bit part role throughout the tournament, Alves was in stunning form in the final against fierce rivals Argentina, notching up one goal and one assist in the 3-0 victory. It would be Alves’ fifth piece of silverware in just a little over 12 months, having started off the 2006/07 term with the UEFA Super Cup win over Barcelona, before earning his second successive UEFA Cup winner’s medal and even adding the Spanish Copa del Rey to his haul. To top if all off, his brilliant run of form helped Sevilla to a third place finish in La Liga and as a result, qualification to the Champions League for time in the club’s history. With his stock and his star status rising rapidly, the lure of a big-money transfer would now seem too great to turn down. But while the player was ready to move on, the club – or more specifically the president – was not. Despite assuring Alves that he would not get in the way of a dream move should an appropriate offer come along, del Nido repeatedly shot down numerous offers, the bulk of which came from Chelsea, including a whopping €36 million bid. The Brazilian was understandably upset with his president and he didn’t make it any secret during interviews and public appearances. The fall out with del Nido clearly affected his morale and performance on the pitch and coupled with the tragic death of teammate Antonio Puerta and the departure of his mentor and coach Juande Ramos, Alves had to endure a poor patch of form for much of the first half of the season. Big Boys But the 25 year old put aside his differences to focus on guiding his team pull free of their slump. He was back to his lethal best towards the latter stages of the 2007/08 campaign and he was again influential in helping Sevilla secure at least a UEFA Cup berth by finishing fifth in the league. This time, though, Alves would not be denied the opportunity to play with the big boys. Realizing that he just had to yield, the outspoken del Nido finally gave in to the right-back’s wishes. And on June the 6th 2008, Sevilla agreed to let Alves join Catalan behemoths FC Barcelona for a fee of around €30 million (possibly up to €35 million including performance-based instalments). Dani Alves embodies the typical Brazilian fullback. Fast, explosive, flamboyant, tricky and attack-minded, he also has a penchant for scoring goals and the occasional stunning freekick. The argument, however, is still out as to whether or not he deserves that price tag strictly as a defender. But playing for a Barça side that demands attractive, offensive football, he will have the chance to prove that he is capable of mixing it with the attacking players as well as holding his own at the back. And at only 25 years of age, he will have plenty of time to fine-tune any defensive shortcomings. Titles and Honours Brazil: (2003) FIFA U-20 World Youth Championship; (2007) Copa América EC Bahia: (2002) Brazilian Campeonato do Nordeste Sevilla: (2006) UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Cup MVP; (2007) UEFA Cup, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup


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