Joao Alves: "Rejecting Real Madrid was a stupid mistake"

The former Salamanca goalkeeper rejected Real Madrid back in 1978 and says it was his fault and that he made a truly grave error at the time.

Joao Alves: "Rejecting Real Madrid was a stupid mistake"

Legendary Portuguese player, Joao Alves, once rejected Real Madrid to return to Portugal to play with Benfica. He is back in Portugal to manage Académica de Coimbra after five years away and he spoke about not having an agent and never wanting one and that decision to turn down Real Madrid.

Q: What system of play you you use?

Joao Alves en sus etapas como jugador (izquierda) y como entrenador (derecha) del Salamanca.

Joao Alves en sus etapas como jugador (izquierda) y como entrenador (derecha) del Salamanca.

"Adapt the system to the players and not the players to the system. It's very simple, I take advantage of the best of the best to make my best eleven. Now, I have to recover the players psychologically, they have started poorly and after that, everything will work well."

Q: You never had an agent?

"There are entrepeneurs who have two or three clubs, you have to stop and reflect a little bit because this is outrageous. This football has nothing to do with the football of a long time ago."

Q: If you have an agent, would you be the manage of Benfica or of the Portuguese national team?

"Yes, but I have had contacts to train Benfica and the Portuguese national team but there was always something against me and who prevented it."

Q: Is it still possible? 

"How do I answer tha? Logically, it's difficult, although if I do with Coimbra what I did with Servette in Switzerland, and I took them in the second division and brought them to Europa Leagie. Although, it's still complicated. I'm 65 and it's very difficult." 

Q: What was the Pualeta anecdote about Pauleta when he came to Salamanca?

"(Laughs) What happened was very simple. Pauleta, who was 23, arrived for free to Salamanca and the medical department rejected him because he had pubalgia (sports hernia, or gilmore's groin), which is something a lot of players have. I assumed responsibility for him and the president had faith in me and we threw out the entire medical department. Now, myself and Pauleta have a wonderul relationship."

Q: As a player, during your time with Salamanca with García Traid as manager, you were named as the best foreign player in the Spanish league, despite playing against Cruyff and Kempes, which is why Real Madrid want to sign you in 1978 and you rejected the offer.

"I made a stupid mistake, I lost a great opportunity, it was the highest, I rejected playing at the best club in the world and it was my fault. I didn't accept the offer because I wanted to play at Benfica, and between Salamanca and Madrid everything with the deal was done."