Dani Alves: ‘I love this sport. I loved football when they didn’t pay me’ | World Cup 2022

IIt would not take a lot to get Dani Alves going. It would not take something the truth is: generally only a howdy will do. The Brazilian is falling about laughing earlier than he is even requested the primary query. Laughing? He’s cackling.

“Let’s go!” he says and instantly he is off, charging in every single place, a little bit like he performs. Like he used to, at the least. There is a second someplace in the midst of a dialog that crashes by, just about each phrase an excuse to crack up, grin by no means wiped from his face, when he says: “I assume individuals are confused: individuals assume football’s performed inside these 4 white traces and it is not; football’s performed within the dressing room.”

Hearing him say it, the way in which he says it, enthusiasm overflowing, taking him to Qatar makes excellent sense.

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This is a World Cup like no different. For the final 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the problems surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the therapy of migrant employees and discriminatory legal guidelines. The better of our journalism is gathered on our devoted Qatar: Beyond the Football dwelling web page for many who wish to go deeper into the problems past the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far past what occurs on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism immediately.

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But whereas that issues, do not assume that is the one factor that attracted them selecoh to the 39-year-old who was final seen in the midst of the Pumas midfield in Mexico, hasn’t performed since September and will solely prepare with Barcelona’s B workforce. Winner of 124 caps and of 49 trophies – his calculation – the Brazil head coach, Tite, calls him an “animal”.

Alves claims not having a aggressive sport in two months may even be a great factor – “when you play the danger of harm will increase”, he laughs – and says: “I’m excellent. Mentally and bodily I’m prepared to assist and never simply from exterior [the pitch] however inside. When you could have a ‘good foot’, it is like driving a motorcycle: you always remember.”

Alves missed out on the 2018 World Cup by way of harm and says “that damage however I do not sink in my very own pity”. He was decided to not miss this, the final time. “I do not assume I’ll be on the subsequent one: I didn’t know if they would need me at this one, so think about the subsequent one.”

“People ask me why I nonetheless play at 39. Because I love this sport. I love it I’m not right here to waste time. I loved football when they didn’t pay me; now they do, nice, however I play football due to the sentiments it provokes.”

Has your sport modified, although?

I’ve turn out to be extra surgical. You might be as quick as you need however the ball flies and also you’re by no means going to run that fast. Positioning issues: he who runs lots, passes much less. For me dominating this sport, actually mastering it, shouldn’t be about what occurs when the ball is at my ft however earlier than it’s at my ft. That’s at all times been the case and it is what makes me completely different, what provides me a artistic energy others do not have.

My traits had been at all times to interrupt fashions, techniques, constructions. In the tip it’s your id, your creativity, your concepts, your choices. Think. It’s not ‘cross the ball into the field’. no go the ball to the teammate within the field. Put it in? Anyone does that. What’s the intention. Where’s my teammate? Where does he shoot from? What actions does he make? You should see. If the ball goes to the primary line, the second, the third, if it is a go that accelerates the transfer or slows it, if it controls, if it is a faux go, if it is a go with an goal.

Dani Alves in a friendly v Japan in June.
Dani Alves in a pleasant v Japan in June. Photograph: Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

What form of World Cup do you count on?

The most even lately. Lots of groups have a excessive degree, however I nonetheless assume these with one of the best particular person skills can be a step forward. Teams are so centered on having robust gamers, gamers who’re beasts bodily, however football is a sport of excellent ft. Just working is one other sport.

People focus a lot on the bodily that I generally marvel: what issues? What is a football participant? He who runs extra or he who performs higher? When you give attention to physicality you scale back a participant’s capacity to create, to resolve, to do one thing completely different.

Everything is being roboticised. Humanity is: it’s important to do this, this, this, this, this… the place is the facility of creation? That’s being misplaced. Don’t take that creativity away since you create robots. Never, ever lose that. Creation is probably the most stunning factor there’s. People assume defending is the toughest activity; no, no, attacking is. Talent nonetheless makes the distinction.

Dani Alves

Brazil has a great deal of it

In the 16, 17 years I have been within the nationwide workforce, I assume it’s the finest second when it comes to the gamers. Modern football with out forgetting our essence. There are a lot of these gamers solely Brazil is fortunate sufficient to have, expertise in each place and good stability. In phrases of creativity possibly we’re a little bit step forward of others however that does not imply something

I at all times assume Brazil are favorites. History and custom counts. We’ve suffered lots lately however there is a very strong group, with a ‘shell’ that is very exhausting. This is one of the best Brazilian dressing room lately. Good skills, good individuals.

How necessary is Tite’s position in that?

Tite manages the group, will get one of the best from everybody, and that is the toughest factor in football. That’s his energy: management, the connection. I do not assume I have the phrases to outline the facility he has, his capacity.

Playing for Brazil at a World Cup at all times brings intense stress

Pressure is there, at all times, in all areas of life: a father who must feed his household lives with a brutal stress. Mentally, you want stability. You should be clear, honest.

The downside with Brazil is that there is a bubble blown up: you are going to win. And that is not true. There’s an expectation so nice that when it is not met, something can occur. We should be a bit extra trustworthy in football. We are in an unbelievable second, we have now a really robust group, however does that imply we’ll win the World Cup? no You should pedal. Pedal, my brother.

What do you make of Argentina?

I have been saying for years – and I should not as a result of I cannot face seeing Argentina as champions – that Argentina didn’t notice they had Messi. They have lastly realized, so they’re extra harmful than a few years in the past when they didn’t. Now they’ve labored it out.

You’ve performed with him, Neymar and in addition Mbappé

PSG has one of the best trio of attackers seen for a very long time. Kylian wants to grasp – and I have advised him this – who’s beside him. He is an exceptional participant however he hasn’t seen who’s there and they’re a little bit extra phenomenal than him.

The artistic energy Messi and Neymar have, nobody in football has. They see issues that nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody sees. Since I have performed football, I’ve not seen anybody with that. We are speaking concerning the two nice geniuses of football. He needs to be clever to permit them to deliver out all of the expertise he has inside him, the issues he does so effectively.

And that’s? Break into area, obtain, somewhat than drop to play?

I contemplate myself good at passing but when I have Messi subsequent to me, if I have Neymar subsequent to me, I give them the ball to make that go. I assume I can go, eh, however they do it higher. Sometimes it is an issue having a lot expertise occupying the identical areas and it’s essential to discover a solution to make it join.

No one is nice on their very own. What makes people nice is information, understanding virtues and defects. So if I have these two alongside me, I go them the ball, they help and … 150 targets a 12 months.

Is that what made Barcelona so good? That Luis Suárez had the intelligence to understand that?

That’s it, that is it. You might be the enterprise however there’s at all times [someone who is] absolutely the enterprise. People used to speak about us enjoying two-touch. The factor is, you play two touches to get the ball to Leo. You play two touches to take the ball to Ney. You do not do it as a result of the coach likes two touches.

You have to grasp these ideas, why you do issues. Get the ball to the man who can do 5, six, 10, 50 touches. To do that everybody has to know their power, as a result of it is the concord that is highly effective.

Alves with Lionel Messi during their Barcelona days.
Alves with Lionel Messi throughout their Barcelona days. Photograph: Getty Images

Brazil has two particular rising skills with Rodrygo and Vinícius

I am an enormous fan of Rodrygo. I may spend all day speaking about him. He’s a phenomenon, a prodigious expertise who sees issues nobody else does, who performs the place nobody else does with daring, persona. It’s a very long time since I noticed a participant like him. When he was at Santos I advised pals: he will be a football nice, no doubt.

Viní brings the spectacular: a brutal particular person expertise, velocity, energy, an unbelievable willingness to take individuals on. He possibly has to work on the combinative play, which Rodrygo already has, however he is, wow, superb. There’s nonetheless a course of to come back. We cannot neglect with numerous these gamers that we’re speaking about people who find themselves 20, 21, 22.

And Antony? Could he be the star to interrupt by way of at this event?

Could be Why not? He’s a phenomenon. You should watch out in football as a result of it is an enormous machine of distraction and it’s important to discover stability, not be carried away when you are in your finest second or when you are not in your finest second.

Beyond Brazil, who do you want?

Musiala … Gnabry … Sané … gamers who’ve one thing a bit completely different. I like gamers who’re magical for football lovers, like Pedri, like Gavi, gamers who do one thing that makes football extra emotional. I noticed Ansu the opposite day and he mentioned “I wager you do not keep in mind me. I have a photograph with you when I was a child”. I mentioned after all I do. Your face stayed with me, I mentioned then you definitely had been going to be the face of La Masia.

What about right-backs? Who’s the subsequent Dani Alves?

Being the ‘subsequent’ may be very tough and saying that places a mindless stress on gamers. It’s exhausting to be Alves, Cafu, Carlos Alberto. Make your individual historical past. I’m an enormous fan of João Cancelo. Reece James is brutal. I like that Dani Alves too.

People make errors as a result of they do not know football. What’s a defensive full-back? What’s an offensive full-back? It relies on the traits of the workforce. Talking about Trent Alexander-Arnold, he is a participant I love, as a result of simply as necessary because the participant who can dribble spherical 5 is the one who can ‘dribble’ them with a single go. The impact is identical, however with one distinction: it is sooner.

Look on the aims fulfilled. Trent has that 40-yard change that breaks a two line press in a single go. It may look much less good than going spherical three males however anybody who can take out six gamers like that, wow.

And the outdated Dani Alves, what subsequent? You’re 39

All people are the identical, we simply occupy completely different positions, roles. Everyone’s a phenomenon. It shouldn’t be that I am a footballer, it’s that I am within the place of footballer. I’m way more than simply ‘footballer’. Football will finish, however my life will not. And legacy is about greater than profitable: there are individuals who have received the World Cup and are forgotten.

Kids’ movies at all times train you, should you’re paying consideration, and Kung Fu Panda tells you that the longer term is unknown. The current is gorgeous, embrace it. I love being accountable, prepared. You by no means know what’s coming. So I’m prepared. I do not make plans. I will stretch out my time in football so long as I can as a result of I love it. And additionally as a result of if there aren’t individuals right here defending creativity in football a bit, it’ll die.

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