Just like a fine bottle of port, Portugal wing player Alan seems to get better with age. Despite having now turned 40, the seasoned campaigner played a decisive part in his side’s ultimately safe passage to the last eight of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015.
A glance at the tournament statistics is enough to reveal his importance to the hosts. As well as being their joint-top scorer with Madjer, with four goals in three games, Alan has also conjured up three assists and is among the tournament's leading creators.
“It’s good to know that,” the in-form wide man told FIFA.com. “I like to work for the team and it makes me happy when I come up with an assist.
“Obviously it’s great to score a goal, but I demand a lot of myself with my passing and I think that assists deserve a lot of credit. I hope to come up with a few more and to see Portugal keep on winning.”
Asked if he prefers scoring goals or providing them, the sprightly Alan replied: “I really like setting goals up. I do. I enjoy it so much that I joke to my team-mates: ‘I’m 40 and I’ve scored lots of goals. You young guys can do the scoring now’. So when I play a pass in, it makes me really happy.”
They all believe in us, which is why we want to get to the final and win the title on home sand.
Having raised the issue of his age, Alan is happy to explain the secret to his longevity: “It’s very simple really: I work hard, I enjoy what I do and I’m dedicated to the sport. If an athlete dedicates themselves to what they enjoy doing and they do their job right, then they can go far. And that’s what I’m doing.”
Such is his love for beach soccer that the tireless Portuguese has yet to set a date for his retirement. “Everyone asks me when I’m going to give it up, but that’s the way it is,” he explained. “As you can see, my legs have still got some running left in them, but as soon as I start falling behind the young ones, I’ll be the first to say that I’m quitting. I think I’ve got a bit left in me yet though.”
He added: “My legs can take another three games. In fact, with these wonderful fans here in Espinho, I think I could manage another six or nine.”
A key player in the Portugal side, Alan is also one of its more vociferous members: “It's not so much a question of giving advice to the younger players but of us chatting a lot and pointing out what’s going well, what isn’t and what we need to do.
“We’re all friends and the ones who listen to what the experienced players have to say are going to go further.”
Before he signed off, Alan had a special word of praise for the fans cheering the hosts on in Espinho: “It’s always fantastic whenever Portugal play at home. The fans really get behind the national team.
“They all believe in us, which is why we want to get to the final and win the title on home sand, so that Alan, the whole team and the whole country can celebrate.”