Welcome back to Where Are They Now? where we take a look into what has happened to some of the Premier League’s ‘greatest’ players. Last week, we looked at the life and times of Newcastle’s finest striker, Stephane Guivarc’h, and it only seems right that we continue with a striker that ‘sparkled’ in the North-East.
Middlesbrough were possibly the most entertaining club of the 1990s, spending more time buying expensive foreign talent than actually attempting to stay in the Premier League for any sustained period of time. That strategy rather incredibly didn’t see them Bradford or Leeds themselves but rather become a stable yet boring Premier League side that flirted with European glory under Steve McClaren.
Once McClaren left, the club was put into the hands of current England boss Gareth Southgate who promptly saw some of the key players under McClaren leave and replaced them with ‘outstanding’ foreign replacements. One of said foreigners was Brazilian Afonso Alves who had been making waves over in Eredivisie, scoring five hundred goals a game against imaginary defenders. Or so the press would have you believe. To show you just how good he was in Holland, here’s a YouTube montage with some samba Coldplay.
Still, that was enough for Southgate to spend £12 million on the striker in January 2008. Things started well enough as Alves bagged six Premier League goals towards the tail end of the 2007/08 season. However, half of those were on the final day against Manchester City as Boro won 8-1 while another two were against Manchester United. Oh well, he still scored right?
The following season was a disaster as Alves and Boro struggled horribly. The Brazilian managed just four goals in the Premier League and seven in all competitions as Boro slumped into the Championship. In positive news for Alves, at least he wasn’t as bad as Lee Dong-Gook.
Still, Middlesbrough were counting on their record signing to get them out of the Championship so were suitably miffed when Alves showed up late for pre-season. It was clear by that point Boro wanted nothing more to do with Alves and in September, around 18 months after his arrival, he was shipped off to the Middle East to earn a nice paycheck like only an ex-Brazilian international can.
Alves would score periodically in the Middle East with three different clubs before eventually finding himself without a club in 2013. He would eventually announce his retirement via Instagram in 2015, making him officially cooler than Xabi Alonso because he was first.
Alves’ legacy in the Premier League is one of perception. Those monstrous figures in the Eredivisie only served to further the idea that every defender in Holland is as useful as a five year old that’s just been told to put back that packet of fun size Mars Bars. That’s not entirely accurate of course but the truth is that Alves was simply not cut out for the Premier League.
Let’s end positively though. Here’s a video from Alves’ unveiling where he can’t do keepy-ups.