RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazil captain Dani Alves had his hands full of trophies on Sunday after leading his team to a 3-1 victory over Peru in the Copa America final and being named best player of the tournament, outperforming his peers despite his 36 years.
The flamboyant right back collected a staggering 40th trophy as a professional as he hoisted the Copa America trophy into the Rio de Janeiro night sky, flanked by delirious team mates, and the triumph had his footprints all over it.
Alves was part of an imperious defense which conceded only one goal in six games — Paolo Guerrero’s converted penalty in the final — and provided extra fuel to his side’s midfield with incisive forward play throughout the tournament.
His goal in the 5-0 thrashing of Peru in the group stages was a testament to his outstanding fitness as he marauded forward from the halfway line and made two one-two passes with team mates before smashing into the roof of the net.
He also produced a thrilling piece of play in the semi-final against Argentina, dazzling past Leandro Paredes before playing a no-look pass to Roberto Firmino which outfoxed Nicolas Tagliafico and led to Gabriel Jesus scoring.
Alves, whose trophy-filled career has taken him from hometown side Bahia to Sevilla, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris St Germain, is without a club after his contract with PSG expired.
Despite being at an age where most players are considering retiring from the game, he should have no shortage of suitors after rolling back the years.
His performances have turned heads in Brazil but, speaking on the eve of the final, Alves said the reasons behind his consistency were simple.
“If you have respect for your profession and look after yourself it’s easy to maintain your level,” he said.
“Some people are surprised about my performances here, I am not.”