Having faced Real Madrid so many times with Barcelona, now Dani Alves has the chance to beat the old enemy with the Old Lady in the biggest game of them all.
He appeared alongside Gianluigi Buffon prior to the upcoming Champions League final showdown in Cardiff, and spoke in a typically humble and entertaining fashion.
Even when questions were directed towards his team-mate, Alves still reacted with an array of facial expressions which didn’t require words.
If the likes of Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, and Chiellini are the soul of the Juventus defence, then Alves is the life of the team, driving them forward both literally and figuratively.
He himself is looking forward to the final, but you get the impression he’s looking forward to everyone else enjoying it even more, especially his team-mates.
“I think that it’s something special to be able to live a day like this,” he said.
“A very special day indeed to be playing with great players, fighting over a final that everyone in football wants to play in.
“I think we are privileged people to be a present and we need to enjoy this moment, regardless of who’s playing on the other side. We want to make this night more special than it already is [by winning].”
It was suggested to the Brazilian that, heading into the final, he was the most important player in his side as he’s won the trophy three times previously, all with Barcelona.
He shrugged off these claims, insisting that the game was all about the team performance.
“No I don’t feel more important than any of the other players just because I’ve lived moments like this before. Moments lived are for the pages of history, but history is made in every moment.
“You need to try every day to add pages to this story. Life has brought me here to this team and to deliver the dream. Unfortunately they haven’t lived this dream yet.
Buffon is yet to win the European Cup despite being considered one of the best players to ever take up the position between the posts.
He’s a legend in his own lifetime, and indeed in his own playing career, and Alves was asked what it would mean if the 39-year-old Italian stopper ended his career without having lifted the big one.
“For someone like Gigi to not have this trophy…” Alves said, before pausing to think.
“It wouldn’t really change his career as a player,” he resumed.
“But I think it would be one more football page added to his history.”
Before departing to take part in team training on the turf of the Millenium Stadium, he was asked to add a few more words on his own importance (which he’s always determined to play down) and what it would mean to win the trophy with Buffon.
“When I arrived it wasn’t that they were signing a star, they were signing a worker who could live this with them.
“It’s true that we’re close to it, that we need to make sure this dream becomes a reality. It forms part of football history to win Champions League with Buffon before he retires.
“I’ll do everything within my hands to be able to win this. I’m not a person who lives thinking of myself. If everything around me is fine, I’m fine as well.
“My concern now is to be on a par with rest of my colleagues, to help them become better and help me become better. That’s achievement — to make sure everyone around me becomes better.
“It’s a fight together with them for this great dream we have. If you go to try to achieve other [individual] things you have nightmares, but we are dreaming.”
Buffon himself admitted that he hopes Alves’ experience will help the team, but he also revealed that it’s the wingback’s character, as much as his football, which has had an influence on the team.
The goalkeeper revealed an early conversation between the two players.
“I did send him this kind of message: ‘Can you help us win the Champions League?’
“He is a bit like me, and is an optimist, so he said ‘yes I will make you win the Champions League.’
“He has been a revelation for me. We’ve all seen what he can do on the pitch, but I was able to meet him and get to know him better and off the pitch there’s a lot more to him!”
Juventus have already triumphed in the league and Italian Cup this season, securing a domestic double.
The Champions League trophy will make it one more for the dreamers if chief visionary Alves has his way.
Featured image by Kaykqer, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.