Alex Teixeira is one of a long line of Brazilian footballers who’ve plied their trade in Donetsk; a city in southeast Ukraine which is home to one of the country’s football heavyweights – Shakhtar.
Youth Football: Vasco & Brazil
Born in Duque de Caxias, a city neighbouring Rio de Janeiro, Alex Teixeira joined Rio based club Vasco da Gama as a youth in 1999, aged ten.
The right-footed attacking midfielder progressed through the youth ranks at the club, picking up international youth caps along the way. He won several trophies with his country at U-15 and U-17 level, including the South American U-17 Championship in 2007, where he wore the number eleven shirt and contributed two goals during the victorious campaign.
He also scored two goals in the subsequent 2007 U-17 World Cup, but Brazil were eliminated from the tournament in the first knockout round.
It was around this time that Teixeira began to attract the attention of football scouts around the world, and in 2008 at the age of eighteen, he was listed as one of FIFA’s global revelations alongside names such as Giovani dos Santos, Alexandre Pato, and Sergio Aguero.
He’d previously attracted a transfer offer from Manchester United in 2006, which Vasco had turned down, and in 2008 they received an offer from another English club, Chelsea, who wanted to buy 50% of the player’s rights, but again Vasco turned the offer down.
Between 2008 and 2009 he made ninety-five appearances for Vasco in all competitions, scoring thirteen goals, and in his last year at the club he helped them secure promotion back to Brazil’s top division as they won the Série B title.
At the end of 2009 he represented his country at youth level again; this time at the U-20 World Cup in Egypt. He scored three goals for a Brazil side which included Bayern Munich’s new signing Douglas Costa (also signed from Shakhtar), as the team made it to the final only to be defeated by Ghana.
Interest from Europe re-emerged shortly after this tournament, and Alex Teixeira ended up joining Shakhtar Donetsk in March 2010 for around €6m.
Shakhtar’s School for Brazilians
Shakhtar were getting a reputation for developing Brazilian footballers. Many of these players were eventually sold on, but not before they’d helped Shakhtar advance as a club in its own right.
They had won the UEFA Cup in 2009 with goals from Brazilian attackers Luiz Adriano and Jadson, and the likes of Fernandinho and Willian were following in the footsteps of the club’s pioneering Brazilians, Brandão, and Elano.
Despite a few appearances at the end of the 2009/10 season, it was in the 2010/11 season when football fans began to see glimpses of the player Shakhtar had signed. He made appearances in domestic competitions, as well as being part of the side which made it to the Champions League quarter-finals where they were knocked out by Barcelona. Alex Teixeira appeared from the bench in both legs against Guardiola’s Spanish dream-team – an invaluable learning experience for any young player.
Shakhtar have won the league in every season Alex has been at the club, except for the most recent 2014/15 season when the title returned to Dynamo Kiev. Despite his club’s failure to lift their sixth title in a row, it was one of Alex Teixeira’s most productive seasons from an individual point of view as he finished top of the league’s goal-scoring charts with seventeen. In all competitions his goal tally reached twenty-two.
It was his most productive season at the club so far, but he had reached double figures in the goals column twice before – in the 2011/12 season when he notched up ten goals in all competitions, and in 2012/13 when he scored sixteen.
Future Brazil International?
As the 2015/16 season begins, Alex Teixeira is picking up where he left off. He already has five goals from six games in the league, and one goal from his side’s Champions League qualifying victory against Fenerbahçe. They defeated the Turkish side 3-0 at home in the second leg, after the first leg in İstanbul finished 0-0, and have since drawn Austrian side Rapid Wien in the play-off round.
He’s named as the club’s vice captain for the current season, and at 25-years-old he’s currently moving into his peak years as a footballer.
In this form it’s surely only a matter of time before he earns his first senior cap with a call-up to Dunga’s struggling Brazil side. His goals from midfield could be vital for a team who can’t seem to find a reliable striker, and playing alongside the likes of Neymar, Coutinho, and Oscar; the supply to him would be plentiful.