FIFA U-17 WC: Alan, the conductor of Samba beats

On the field, Alan’s movements are balletic and he subtly modulates the tempo in the midfield with his clever distribution. Be it when Brazil is in the offensive or defensive mode, Alan holds the strings.

Alan has an assist to his name in the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup.   -  AFP

 

He is the shortest player in the Brazilian Under-17 World Cup squad but also the most creative one among them. At 5ft 4in, with a gentle stubble and crew cut hair, Alan de Souza Guimaraes is the orchestrator of the Samba beat that has ebbed and flowed majestically at the ongoing tournament.

Alan finds the narrowest of gaps on the field and pierces it with measured crosses which invariably reaches where it is intended with laser guided accuracy. The receptor only has to do minimal work for getting the optimum result off those passes. On the field, Alan’s movements are balletic and he subtly modulates the tempo in the midfield with his clever distribution. Be it when Brazil is in the offensive or defensive mode, Alan holds the strings.

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Wearing the No. 10 jersey for the world’s most popular team can be an added pressure but it sits lightly on Alan. “The pressure that comes by wearing the yellow jersey is a good one. We, Brazilians, are proud to wear it. It is a great feeling to wear the No. 10 Brazil shirt and I am totally relaxed about it,” he said.

For him, his lack of height is his biggest advantage. “In modern football there is room for everyone: tall, medium sized and short players. My lack of height gives me greater speed and control. The style Brazil plays also suits short players like me. Look at Messi, Romario and Iniesta; they are not tall but are very successful at top level,” he said.

Alan came to India with a big reputation after having played a pivotal role in Selecao’s win in the South American Championship early this year. A hat-trick against Chile was followed by six assists - the most by any player in the tournament - which earned him the mantle as the team’s best passer.

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At this World Cup, a goal has eluded Alan but he takes great pride in creating chances, though many of them have not been converted into goals this tournament. “An assist is as good as a goal. I take great pleasure in helping my team-mates to score and it makes me happy,” he said. Coach Carlos Amadeu is also impressed with Alan’s maturity and selflessness.

The player was in the radar of Real Madrid but backed out after his club SE Palmeiras put a buyout clause of €50 million dollars. One day, Alan hopes to follow in his idol Iniesta’s footsteps and play for Barcelona. But at present, the Sao Paulo born player is more focussed on the job in hand: the quarterfinal clash against Germany at Kolkata on Sunday.

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