There’s a reason Dani Alves is widely regarded as one of the most popular figures in world football.
Not only is he a crazy character off the field, but Barcelona have missed him dearly on it after he was almost inexplicably let go for free to Juventus last summer.
Since then, Alves has helped Juve win a sixth successive Serie A title and toppled his former employers quite comfortably in the Champions League quarter-finals.
And ahead of the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday night, Alves has written for The Players’ Tribune in a truly endearing account of his career and what makes him so special.
Unsurprisingly, parts of it are truly hilarious.
In one section, the Brazil full back describes the pre-match routine he undergoes in a bit to psych himself up before every game.
He says: “Right before every match, I have same the routine. I stand in front of a mirror for five minutes and I block out everything. Then a movie begins to play in my mind. It is the movie of my life.
“In the first scene, I’m 10 years old. I’m sleeping on a concrete bed at my family’s tiny home in Juazeiro, Brazil.
“My brother and I walk out into the field, and our father is already out there working. He’s got a big, heavy tank on his back, and he’s spraying the fruits and plants with chemicals to kill the bacteria.
“We’re probably too young to handle the toxins, but we help him anyway. This is just our way to survive. For hours, I compete with my brother to see who can be the hardest worker. Because the one who our father decides has helped him the most gets the rights to our only bicycle.
“If I don’t win the bicycle, I have to walk the 12 miles from the farm to my school. The walk back from school is even worse, because the pickup football games in our neighborhood will start without me. So I run the 12 miles back and then just keep running right out onto the pitch.
But if I do win the bicycle? Then I can get the girls. I can pick up one of them on the road and offer them a ride to school. For 12 miles, I’m the man.
“So I work my ass off.”
Not only is it a wonderful insight into the struggles he endured during his upbringing that forged his successful career, it also confirms just how utterly mad he is.
Never change, Dani…