Rio de Janeiro, March 31 (IANS) Guangzhou Evergrande striker Alan has described playing under coach Fabio Cannavaro as a “dream come true” and praised the Italian World Cup winner’s positive influence on the team.
Cannavaro has enjoyed a solid start to his second spell in charge of the Chinese giants after replacing Luiz Felipe Scolari in November, reports Xinhua news agency.
Evergrande, who have won the past seven Chinese Super League titles, currently top Group G in the Asian Champions League and third in China’s top flight standings.
“He (Cannavaro) is a guy who has achieved great things in football and has added a lot to the team,” Alan told Brazil’s SporTV.
“I come from a small city in Sao Paulo state and to be experiencing this is a dream come true. I used to watch him on television and now I’m playing under him. He was voted the best player in the world [in 2006]. He is a sensational guy with a giant heart.
“He has already helped us a lot and I hope I can learn more from him,” added the Brazilian, who also played under Cannavaro before the Italian was replaced by Scolari in June 2015.
Alan has been one of Evergrande’s shining lights since joining the club from Red Bull Salzburg in 2015. The 28-year-old has taken his game to another level this year, scoring nine times in as many matches, including six in the Super League.
“I have taken a lot of hits in my career but they have only made me stronger and more mature,” Alan said. “I’ve had good periods at other clubs but this has been a special time, not just in football but in my personal life,” added Alan, who recently celebrated the birth of his second child, Lara.
Alan said he shared a unique chemistry on the pitch with teammate and compatriot Ricardo Goulart, denying suggestions of a goal scoring rivalry between the pair.
“We are there to help the team, regardless of who scores goals,” he said.
“The most important thing is how we are playing as a team. I’m happy for Ricardo when he plays well and vice-versa. I hope we can both continue to score and the team keeps winning.”
The former Brazil U-20 player is contracted to Evergrande until the end of 2019 and has no plans to leave China.
“I’m happy in China and my family is too. I try to think in the present and enjoy the moment. I’m happy to stay here but I also don’t want to close any doors. Anything can happen in football but for now I’m only thinking about China,” he concluded.