05.04.2020

On This Day: Alex scores first RPL goal for Spartak in 2009

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On 5 April 2009, Alex helped Spartak Moscow beat their namesakes from Nalchik with his first goal in the Russian Premier Liga. In the winter of 2009, the midfielder was not the only red-and-white newcomer who came from Brazil.

Unlike the 19-year-old Rafael Carioca, however, Alex had already won the Copa Libertadores and the Club World Cup with Internacional by the age of 26, and also played for the Brazilian national team in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification. The younger man’s transfer to Spartak was only made on 27 February, two weeks before the start of the RPL season. Alex joined the team even later on 2 March. It took almost a day to travel from Brazil to Turkey, where the last red-and-white training camp was being held.

“I must admit, I was preparing for the worst,” the newcomer told Sport-Express during the first days of his stay in the team. “I at least expected that I would face serious difficulties at first. Fortunately, this did not happen. I liked the good organization of the gathering, as well as the friendly and trusting atmosphere in the team.

“I also like the way the relationship between the players and the coaching staff is built. In such a short time, I have even been assured of the high qualification of the medical staff. In short, I feel like I am in a relationship with Spartak, as if I've been protecting its colours for several years.”

The player was highly valued by the club's management. "Of course, when we signed a contract with him, we expected him to lead both on the field and in the dressing room,” recalled Valery Karpin, who worked as Spartak's General Director at the beginning of 2009, in an interview with Championat 10 years later.

“The fans' expectations might have been less optimistic, but we knew who we were taking." Before the start of the season, Spartak manager Michael Laudrup was confident that Alex would quickly adapt to the Russian championship.

The Brazilian confirmed this in practice. In the opening game against Zenit St. Petersburg, he participated in an attack that led to a quick goal. In the away match against Kuban Krasnodar, his cross found Wellington who attacked the ball and earned a penalty. Unfortunately Alex could not convert it and his new team lost 1-0.

Before the Spartak Derby, Alex was asked if it would be satisfying to score the first goal in Russia in such a game. "As long as it’s not an own goal!" he joked. Fortunately for Alex and Spartak fans, he scored the first goal with a very Brazilian flavour. Rafael Carioca's pass and a subsequent foul on Wellington preceded Alex's free-kick in the ninth minute. Before the start of the season, Alex was warned by his compatriot Zico, who was then coaching CSKA.

When Spartak beat Nalchik 2-0, the second goal was scored by Wellington. Alex's goal stunned not only all the spectators, but also the visiting goalkeeper Dejan Radic, who said after the match: "People who score goals like this are not born on this planet." The author himself explained everything with accumulated experience: "I was guided rather by instinct and did not lose. In Brazil, I always hit penalties, and I have a lot of experience in this business."

Alex hit such goals more than once, but his Spartak career ended in May 2011 when the midfielder returned to Brazil for family reasons. Upon parting, Alex hoped Spartak would become champions, and warmly congratulated the team when they succeeded.

“The club's fans all over the world deserved this victory, I congratulate them all,” the Brazilian said in reaction to this event in an interview with TASS. “Of course I remember the Kombarovs, with whom I played, and in general, I always think of Spartak! The only thing that upsets me is that I didn't become champion of Russia with the red-and-white team.”

The text uses fragments of interview with Sport-Express, TASS & Championat.com


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