I was never really a fan of being attached to a footballer to the extent of being upset when he leaves. I always thought it involved some sort of overreaction when a fan did that. Don’t get me wrong, I was upset when Xavi left but we were all completely aware of it happening so I got over it immediately. The way the 2015/2016 season went, many fans including myself simply let the idea of Dani Alves leaving slide. We were warned in 2015 yet we decided to forget all about it. I believe the reason behind this is that any fan who has been following Barcelona throughout this past decade realizes that Dani is not just a fantastic player and not just one of the best to ever play in that position. Dani Alves is much more than that. Dani Alves is happiness and you just can’t let go of happiness.
“That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up”. –Walt Disney
Dani Alves is the Walt Disney of the football world. Dani spent a career reminding people of why they did what they did when they were young. Walt once said: “Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional”. Dani never really grew up and he never really planned to. He was hated for it by his rivals. As for the fans, we adored him for it. Dani indirectly reminded you of everything you did for fun when you were young and showed you that you can be successful while also never letting go of the pure happiness you had as a kid.
Dani enters the field match after match in stadiums all around Europe on the biggest stages with the same happiness and excitement he had when he was twelve. Dani made sure he had fun and came back as a winner. If he failed in the latter, he knew it was only a matter of time before he turned it around and the fans always believed he will. Even those who doubted him knew very well that Dani indicates success some way or another and that it’s just a matter of time before they see him dancing.
Dani loved the club and found honest pleasure in its success. He did not slightly care about what others thought of him or the club. He always believed he was good enough for any situation and that the team he played for was without a doubt the greatest team in the world. He went out time and time again to remind people of how big the club is. He gladly rubbed success in the faces of his doubters or rivals. He had an attitude that would predictably be completely despised by his rivals and his fans loved him for that.
In times when fans lost hope in the team, Dani went out to remind everyone of who they support and got them back to their senses. Dani signaled hope. He made it clear to everyone that he will return to succeed and he will continue having fun regardless of what people think.
Dani arrived to the club signaling the beginning of the Dani Alves era. It was an era in which the right flank was a massive force for Barcelona. Honestly, it was the most effective right flank any team in the world had on average in that specific period. There are players in his position who had extremely successful seasons but no one managed to stay as consistent and as influential as Dani Alves. Some way or another, a massive performance by Dani Alves always indicated that Barcelona is going to be okay.
It is important to point out that Dani’s linkup with Lionel Messi is possibly the most effective linkup the world has seen in recent years. It was a linkup that was crucial for Barcelona’s success and I personally believe it was the most important of them all. You could spend days describing their relationship on the field throughout these past 8 years from a tactical perspective but I will try to sum it up in once sentence: When Lionel Messi retires and decides to write a book telling his story to future generations each page of the book will include Dani Alves some way or another.
Dani is part of the generation that brought Barcelona the most success throughout its history. To be more accurate, Dani is the heart and soul of that generation. He stood there signaling hope when even the most gifted players in the world felt like it was all over for them. He is as talented as a player in his position could possibly get. Dani has seen it all. Dani has done it all.
Alves leaves the club at the age of 33 but he will always be remembered as the man with the heart of a kid who never really gave up regardless of the circumstances. He’ll be remembered as the most decorated defender the world has seen. He’ll be remembered as a fantastic man who was one of the very few people in the world to truly understand what it’s like to support FC Barcelona.