There can’t be too many 39-year-olds that have Dani Alves’ youthful exuberance, let alone the fitness that ensured he had a memorable final half season at Barca.
The man is a legend, and I don’t use the word lightly.
Everything he stands for on and off the pitch… time to doff our collective caps. What a man! What a player!
There have always been a few killjoys in the Barca fan base who seem to feel that the Brazilian’s persona made him, and by association Barca, something of a laughing stock.
I’m sure I speak for many on here when I say that nothing could be further from the truth.
As a professional footballer he is beyond reproach.
A questionable fashion sense perhaps, but you can’t take anything away from his prowess on the pitch. You don’t become the most decorated footballer in history by consistently playing the idiot.
Alves’ contributions to the Guardiola years see him sit proudly alongside the likes of Messi, Busquets, Pique, Iniesta and Xavi et al.
When the squad needed a lift, it was never in doubt that Xavi would call on his old mucker either.
That he’s never been seen as part of the ‘club de amigos’ clique too tells us much.
Behind all the good crazy persona is a man utterly dedicated to getting the very best out of himself and his teammates.
A player that has always led by example both in the dressing room and on the pitch.
What a shame that Old Father Time waits for no man, however, Alves has once again left the club with his head held high.
Coming to Barca’s aid in their hour of need could’ve backfired spectacularly for a whole host of reasons, and perhaps there were even some culers hoping exactly that would be the case so they could twist the knife a little further.
And yet, he certainly didn’t disgrace himself. Quite the opposite in fact.
The goal and celebration against Atletico Madrid will live long in the memory. The adulation and warmth from the home fans as he stood in front of the dugouts, arms outstretched, was genuine and joyful - much like the man himself actually.
An absolute one off and the club will be much the poorer without his chirpy demeanour about the place.
Go well, Dani, you’ll be missed. Thanks for the memories.