Alex Telles: How Brazil made me
Manchester United full-back Alex Telles has been describing how his upbringing in Brazil and early difficulties as a pro helped to set him up as a footballer and a man.
The 28-year-old is the latest subject of our ‘My Story’ series, which delves deeper into players’ backgrounds.
Telles follows on from Axel Tuanzebe and fellow Brazilian Fred, and the Caxias do Sul-born defender echoes his compatriot in having lived and breathed football from a young age and he credits his family for helping him get to the top.
“Ever since I was little, football has always been the most important thing in my life. We all have dreams, and I always dreamt of playing for great clubs in the biggest competitions,” Telles said.
“I received special support from my dad and my family, even today they're alongside me, close to me. I'm someone who never gets complacent, I always want to achieve more, taking on more challenges increases my motivation to play football.
“I believe that if I'm here at Manchester United today, it's down to my quality, effort, and sacrifices. I'm sure I'll be very happy here and show my worth.”
Alex is fulfilling a dream his father harboured too.
Jose Telles played for Juventude – Alex’s first club – as a youngster, but his future would lie as a mechanic, rather than a footballer.
Despite never making it to the higher levels of the game, Jose has clearly retained a dedicated mindset and his work ethic rubs off on his son.
“My dad played a lot of football, he didn't turn professional,” our no.27 added. “He came close to making it as a footballer coming through the youth teams.
“He's someone who has always believed in me. He's very athletic, at 62 he's still running miles and miles.
“He's a role model to me and someone who gave me the strength to get to where I am today, so this athleticism definitely comes from my dad.”
Despite this strong grounding, Telles seriously considered giving the game up at the age of 18, after he experienced a serious injury setback while playing for Juventude.
The teenager had agreed a move to Brazilian giants Fluminense but that was quashed when he suffered knee ligament damage in a game with Cruzeiro, shortly after netting his first goal for his boyhood club.
After he recovered, there was, of course, the nasty cranial injury obtained while playing for next club Gremio, the effects of which can still be seen in the scar which crosses Telles’s head.
Either issue could have ended his career, but Telles is made of stern stuff and resolved to keep fighting – a decision which has more than paid dividends, as his time in Europe with Galatasaray, Internazionale, Porto and now United attests.
“[The knee injury] was right at the beginning of my career, and I was really upset and shaken by it,” he recalls. “I had the support of my family and friends close by.
“I then suffered a skull fracture, which is where the scar across my entire head comes from, I was out for months.
“It was a complex operation, what made me carry on was my love for football, my childhood dream, my sacrifices to fight every day for my place in the game, not at the expense of anyone else but by showing my worth and quality.
“Also in honour of my parents and family with my dad always having dreamed of being a footballer.”