Dani Alves - Hair, flair, and...milking cows: five things you didn't know about the Brazilian football star

The 38-year-old may be the most decorated footballer on the planet but he still wants more and is out to add Olympic gold to complete his CV. Here are five things you might not know about him.

By Ken Browne
Picture by 2019 Getty Images

Dani Alves is the most decorated player in the history of football and now he's ready to add Olympic gold to his glittering trophy cabinet.

At 38 years of age his joy for the jogo bonito hasn't been dulled by time, and his excitement about heading to the Olympics is obvious from what he posted on social media after he was included in the Brazil squad:

"Today is another unforgettable day in my life, being called up to represent my country and with the responsibility of defending an Olympic medal is indescribable," Alves said on Instagram.

"I live and fight for this. I fight so that people never give up on what they dream of…everything is possible for those who don't give up. The greater the challenge, the greater the motivation."

With 43 titles to his name the skilled right-back has won more trophies than anyone including three Champions League with Barcelona, and two Copa Americas and a FIFA U-20 World Cup with Brazil.

The former Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain star joins a young squad fizzing with future stars like Arsenal's Gabriel Magalhaes and Aston Villa's Douglas Luiz ahead of Tokyo 2020 Olympics that open on 23 July.

Neymar led the Seleção to their first ever Olympic gold on home soil at Rio 2016, calling it one of the best things to ever happen in his life and while he expressed an interest in playing at the Tokyo 2020 Games, his involvement in the Copa America has made it impossible.

So to celebrate the announcement of Alves' inclusion in the Brazilian Olympic squad we said we'd put together a few things that you might not have known about Dani.

Read on!

1. From milking cows and weeding to the football dream

When Dani Alves made his professional debut with Bahia in 2001 the first Harry Potter film was breaking box office records.

A year later Brazil won the World Cup with that unforgettable team of Ronaldinho, Ronaldo (Luis Nazario), and Rivaldo.

A young Dani Alves had little chance of making that team with the legendary Cafu at right back captaining the side to glory in the Yokohama Stadium in Japan.

But the 'little lad from Juazeiro' has come a long way from pulling up weeds and milking cows on the family farm in the countryside of Bahia which he left to follow his dream of playing football professionally at 15.

After some sparkling performances with Bahia, Alves was snapped up by Sevilla in 2002 before being brought to Barcelona in 2008 for the greatest period in the club's history.

In a career spanning three decades, Alves has crossed continents and become a global star playing with Sevilla, Barça, Juventus, and Paris Saint-Germain.

In 2019 Alves returned to Brazil and now plays with Sao Paolo, still very much in love with the game that he has given a lifetime to.

But can he still milk a cow?

Of course he can. "It's like riding a bike," he told Four Four Two in an interview in 2018, he's never forgotten where he comes from.

"I used to do lots of jobs on the farm and those tasks are like riding a bike – you never forget how to do it. I’d help with whatever needed to be done: milking the cows, weeding.

"...When you see your father working so hard for everyone, you have got to give him a hand, no matter what."

2. A telepathic connection with Messi

Many of Alves' best moments came in a Barcelona shirt and the understanding he and Messi worked up bordered on the supernormal.

A telepathic connection between the two made Alves Messi's greatest ever provider, while Alves scored 14 goals in his 247 appearances in a Barcelona shirt, he provided 40 assists for the Argentine alone during his eight seasons at Barça.

That's more than Xavi, more than Iniesta.

There was a time in the 2008/9 season when some top sportswriters even made the argument that he was the best player in the world (After Messi, of course).

Even watching the two warm up together was unforgettable.

3. Who's the best player Dani Alves has ever faced

The Brazilian says that Messi and Neymar are the best players he's ever shared a pitch and a changing room with, but who's the best player he's ever faced?

Easy.

Cristiano Ronaldo (As he told FIFA in this interview).

"He's that type of opponent that you have to be 100 per cent focused on, if you are at 99 per cent he will ruin you and will make you look silly," Alves was quoted as saying by Spanish sports paper Marca.

The Portuguese megastar was at Real Madrid and Alves at Barcelona while the two clubs' eternal rivalry was at one of its fiercest moments, Guardiola and Mourinho staring each other down from opposite benches, and Alves saw first hand the damage that Ronaldo can do.

Even for Ronaldo this is high praise coming from a player like Alves who's faced the greatest over his 20+ years in the pro game.

4. Music is his passion

"These are the two things that are always present in my life: Football and music," the Brazilian told ThePlayersTribune.

He's Brazilian, he dances. At home, in public, on the pitch, brushing his teeth.

After all, he does come from Bahia where Samba is said to have originated, but Dani still has the moves and a social media following to match: 1.6 million on Tik Tok, over nine million on Twitter, 10 million on Facebook and 32.4 million on Instagram.

Where once his goal celebrations were the perfect chance for a little dance, now he has an enormous platform where he can bust a groove whenever he feels like it.

And he feels like it a lot. Clips of him dancing with his wife Joana Sanz get millions of views, oh, and he sings too.

In 2018 Alves even featured in a video with his former teammate at Barcelona Pinto who played as a goalkeeper and now produces music, along with Brazilian artist Thiago Matheus.

The song is called 'Suave' (Smooth) and has almost three million views on YouTube, don't be surprised if we hear more about Alves' music career when he finally hangs up his boots.

5. Dani Alves' hair: "Being different is MY normal."

Alves has never been afraid to be and to express himself on and off the pitch through his style.

There was a time when Alves' hair was headline news, an endless source of memes and comments online, but it was just him being him.

Alves influenced millions of people to share another side of themselves, becoming a style icon and an 'influencer' before that was even a thing.

"Fashion mirrors your personality," he told the Players' Tribune, "and accepting your own crazy style is what makes you different. Being different is MY normal."

There's no doubt that the man can put a look together.

Dani Alves: Hair, flair, style, the boy from Bahia has got it all.

Dani Alves leads Brazil into Tokyo 2020

Over his twenty year career Alves has become a leader on and off the pitch.

A serious competitor and a serial winner, he's now focussed on helping a young Brazilian Olympic squad to once again top the podium on the biggest sporting stage there is.

"Dani is a reference to everyone," Brazil's Olympic coach Andre Jardine said.

"He is one of the most successful players ever.

"He is going to bring experience and leadership to the team. It's a dream for him to play at the Olympics. Let's complete his resume."

With Alves bringing experience and guidance to a Canarinho squad popping with young talent, whatever happens it'll be fun to watch.

It always is with Dani Alves around.

Here's Brazil full squad:

Goalkeepers: Santos (Athletico PR), Brenno (Gremio)

Defenders: Dani Alves (Sao Paulo), Gabriel Menino (Palmeiras) Guilherme Arana (Atletico), Nino (Fluminense), Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal), Diego Carlos (Sevilla)

Midfielders: Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa), B. Guimaraes (Lyon), Matheus Henrique (Gremio), Gerson (Flamengo), Claudinho (Red Bull Braga)

Forwards: Malcom (FC Zenit), Antony (Ajax), Paulinho (Bayer Leverkusen), Matheus Cunha (Hertha Berlin), Pedro (Flamengo)

Brazil are in Group D with Germany, Saudi Arabia and the Ivory Coast.

Schedule for Group D at Tokyo 2020

22 July 2021 17:30

Brazil vs Germany

22 July 2021 20:30

Côte d'Ivoire vs Saudi Arabia

25 July 2021 17:30

Brazil vs Côte d'Ivoire

25 July 2021 20:30

Saudi Arabia vs Germany

28 July 2021 17:00

Saudi Arabia vs Brazil

28 July 2021 17:00

Germany vs Côte d'Ivoire