Porto’s versatile centre-half Bruno Alves was born in Povoa do Varzim, not too far from the northern Portuguese city where he now makes his living. But although he is a local boy, his footballing roots lie on the other side of the Atlantic. His father, Washington Alves, settled in Portugal after a modest career in the lower leagues of Brazilian football, and, like so many Brazilians, it was on the beaches near his home town that the young Bruno honed the talent that has since made him one of the most adaptable defenders in Portuguese football.
It was that most Brazilian of beach sports, footvolley, that helped the defender to develop his astonishing power in the air. Countless games with his family paid rich dividends, in that Alves is now regarded as a fearsome opponent, strong in the air and with an incomparable will to win. At 6’2” the FC Porto captain may even be regarded as a little on the small side for a modern centre-half, but his aerial ability, both in defence and in attack, have been crucial in helping his country earn their passage to South Africa 2010.
In fact, it was with two vital goals that Alves made his most telling contribution to Portugal’s qualifying campaign. An important strike in Albania, at a time when qualification was far from assured for the Portuguese, was followed by another decisive header in the first leg of the play-off with Bosnia-Herzegovina.
At club level, in contrast with his towering leaps on the field, the central defender’s career has developed slowly but surely. He spent the early part of his career with a number of different clubs, before settling at FC Porto in 2005/6. His consistency ensured that he turned into a key man at the back for the then Portuguese champions, eventually going on to become club captain.
His elevation to international football was only a matter of time. In 2007 former national coach Luiz Felipe Scolari gave him his debut, and called him up to the Portugal squad for EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. In spite of only making one start in that particular tournament, it is highly likely that the talented stopper will enjoy a more significant role in coach Carlos Queiroz’s plans for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.