Fenerbahçe great Alex calls time on career

Former Fenerbahçe SK and Brazil playmaker Alex, who won three Super League titles with the Istanbul outfit, has called time on his playing career at the age of 37.

Alex de Souza notched 136 goals in 245 outings for Fenerbahce
Alex de Souza notched 136 goals in 245 outings for Fenerbahce ©Getty Images

Former Fenerbahçe SK and Brazil attacking midfielder Alex has announced his retirement aged 37.

The Curitiba-born player wound down his career with his original and home-town club Coritiba FBC after making the last of his 245 Super League appearances for Fenerbahçe, which spanned eight years in Istanbul, in 2012.

Alex had moved to Fenerbahçe in 2004 after representing SE Palmeiras, CR Flamengo and Cruzeiro EC as well as Italy's Parma FC. The new acquisition quickly proved his worth as Fenerbahçe claimed the title. Indeed, the 48-cap Brazilian international made a big contribution to that 2004/05 Süper Lig triumph, scoring 24 goals in 31 outings. It was an impressive return from a player usually deployed as a second striker by the Yellow Canaries.

Often given a free role to maximise his creativity, Alex became renowned for his reading of the game and ability to deliver the killer pass. His style certainly suited the requirements of Turkish football where technique and individual talents are prized.

During eight full seasons with Fenerbahçe, Alex won three championships, lifted a Turkish Cup, top-scored in the league twice and registered a total of 136 goals. He was also part of the squad that achieved Fenerbahçe's best UEFA Champions League finish – reaching the 2007/08 quarter-finals before losing 3-2 on aggregate to Chelsea FC.

If the presence of Brazilian team-mates such as Fábio Luciano, Márcio Nobre, Deivid, Edu Dracena and Mehmet Aurélio had helped ensure their compatriot adapted to the Turkish game, Fenerbahçe's supporters would also make Alex feel at home. By 2012, the fans themselves had funded the erection of a statue of their captain in a park near the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.

"I don't know how I became an idol for the Turks. I didn't do anything different from what I did in Brazil," Alex once said. "I dedicated myself to the team but didn't do anything extraordinary for a statue to be commissioned. I was just playing football and fulfilling my duties as well as I could. My family and I lived according to their culture. That's why it's a real mystery for me."

Alex, who also earned the respect of opposition supporters by staying away from controversy and cultivating a clean-living image, eventually left Fenerbahçe in October 2012 following a disagreement with then-coach Aykut Kocaman. The latter had decided that the playmaker, past his 35th birthday, did not feature in his plans.

In one last show of support prior to his departure, his loyal followers chanted outside his home and burned Bengal lights. Whether his retirement could now include a possible return to Turkey, and Fenerbahçe even, Alex would only said: "I will attend coaching courses. That doesn't necessarily mean I will step into coaching but I will try to get qualified just in case. It is possible I could return to Fenerbahçe or Turkey in general."

The Turkish football community, at least, believes the Brazilian may accept a technical role and head 'home' in the near future.