To have Alex back – a dream nurtured by a vast majority of palmeirenses – will remain a dream. Not only did the offensive midfielder recently sign up for another two years at Fenerbahçe: in an interview for a Brazilian newspaper, he reveals that his heart stays true to the one club that launched his career: Coritiba. Below, highlights from the interview published in the “Gazeta do Povo” last Sunday, translated from Portuguese by yours truly.
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Gazeta do Povo – Many people felt certain you were about to return to Brazil. What happened?
Alex – Today, my family is more important than football. It’s very hard to leave my wife and kids. Here [in Turkey] I can play at a good level and combine football with family. That was important. I gave it a lot of thought. In September, when we were kicked out of the European competitions, I started to ponder whether if I should move to another country or even return to Brazil. I concluded it was better to stay.
GP – What were your options?
Alex – It was simple: Fenerbahçe or Coritiba. I told that to all clubs approaching me: “Thank you, but I’m not interested. If I return, it’ll be to Coritiba.”
GP – What was the offer from Fenerbahçe?
Alex – It included a course in coaching, sports management. They [the leaders at Fenerbahçe] think of me in terms of a future manager, working within the club. I honestly can’t imagine that. At this moment, no. But I’ll have to start thinking about it.
GP – Which other clubs approached you?
Alex – I’m not comfortable talking about that. I can talk about Palmeiras, because I’m a former player of the club and have strong ties to them. I know several people, like [football manager] Galeano. I sad at the outset that I like Palmeiras a lot, but that I have no intention of returning there. I also had direct contact with Felipe Ximenes [Coritiba], but we never spoke of contract values. I said to him: “Don’t worry. If I come back, you’ll be the first to know.” [as well as the opposite: on 4 February, Coritiba was promptly notified that Alex had signed a new contract with Fener]
GP – And wouldn’t it be possible to reconcile work and family here in Brazil?
Alex – In Brazil it is impossible, be it at Coritiba, Palmeiras or any other club. The size of the country and the player’s routine… You leave Curitiba, play in Bahia and return… That’s three days gone. Here, you can go to England and be back the next day. My thinking is: never ask for privileges. I’ll have what everyone is having in the club. And here there are many advantages. I can play and still spend time with my family.
GP – Were there interest from other countries?
Alex – Yes, there were initial contacts with a U.S. team, but there was never an exchange of values.
GP – And what about São Paulo?
Alex – Much has been said [in the press] but they never called me.
GP – Would you consider a proposal from Atlético [Paranaense, Curitiba’s biggest rival]?
Alex – Are you nuts?! I wouldn’t go close. I have the utmost respect. I even believe that Atlético and Coritiba could be a bit closer in order to strengthen football in the state of Paraná. But the rivalry must exist. I’m a supporter myself.
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On an end note: although feeling sad with the very real possibility that we’ll never again see Alex in the Palmeiras jersey, I cannot but express my deepest respect for this example of a man, on and off the pitch. Watch and learn, RG and tons of others.