Meet the defender who took the Brazilian flag to the distant football of Kuwait

Alex Lima, 34, started his career in the northeast of Brazil but is living abroad since 2015
Josué Seixas
2023-07-22 08:31:19

Brazilian defender Alex Lima, 34, believes that he has accomplished most of his goals as a footballer. Most of them were out of the field even though he guarantees that there is no player that will surpass his will to win on the pitch.

The player, born in the Northeast of the country, has been living in Kuwait since 2015 after stints with CRB, Bahia de Feira, Grêmio Prudente, Avaí, Atlético Goianiense, Ceará, Portuguesa and Confiança. He played for Kazma FC and is now at Al-Salmiya.

“I guess I envisioned myself being a footballer. We had good conditions in my family’s house, but I dreamt of giving a better life to my mother and my grandmother. I was able to do it for both and even more people that are around me. That’s the legacy that I wanted,” he tells Sambafoot.


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Sambafoot was a guest at Lima’s house in Maceió. He decided to live in the same region of the city where he grew up and everybody knows his name or a few nicknames that he cherishes. His family is close as are friends. Something’s just a bike ride away and that’s what he prefers.

“That’s who I am. I like to be around people that I know for a long time, who treat me for who I am. These are my roots and I know this part of the city on the palm of my hand. I like to hang out by the beach where I play footvolley, to sit on the street and talk to people. My eyes are not caught by being a footballer, having fancy clothes and all that stuff. I really prefer being around my people,” he says.

Lima took his first steps in football by playing in the neighbourhood. He went to a test at CRB with two friends and despite being the youngest he was selected. A forward that turned to a midfielder then a defensive midfielder or a full back. He ended up a defender but with good quality on both feet and a natural instinct to score goals.

There are fond memories of those days. ‘Football is different everywhere’, he analyses. Becoming a professional in the city where he grew up had its ups and downs. He used to ride his bike into training, already part of the professional squad, and people did not like it.

“It didn’t look good for a starter to go to practice riding his bike,” he laughs. “I mean, most of the guys had these big and fancy cars, but I was not earning as much as them so I couldn’t afford one and I didn’t like to take the bus. The solution was to rent me a house close to the training centre, but it flooded due to the rain on the first weekend. We had a whole barbecue planned and we could not do it,” he laughs again.

With the desire to win, the defender kept trying to improve his life. Every competition with CRB or the other clubs was an opportunity to show himself and then walk another step into stardom. Brazil, however, was proving to be a difficult place to achieve his dreams. Sometimes payment was delayed or the conditions were not the best.

So, Lima got to know more about the Arabic world. It was still in development, but the stories he heard were promising and got him interested. It took a while for it to happen. His mind was set and he asked to be negotiated. In 2015, Kazma FC from Kuwait needed a good defender and people knew Alex. He accepted the offer and went there.

“Football is never easy. I didn’t know how to speak English and had never gone to an Arabian country, so it was very different. The thing is that you need to prove that the team needs you, so I put on my best effort to show them that I was the guy they wanted. It’s been eight years there. I envisioned that I would stay for ten years, so I’m still in the process of doing it. The plan never changed.”

Everything was different. He had to live alone at first without a single clue on how to speak the language but the help of Brazilian companion Patrick Fabiano proved to be vital.

“I was not used to how things were done. The food is not like the Brazilian one, so I needed to cook for myself. I’m not a chef, but I do well in the kitchen. In practice, I was always the kind of guy that would get there early and leave later. That’s how they appreciate the work ethic of players. I remember that I had a colleague who was in the Colombian National Team and could not perform well in the club. These things happen. You’re far away from your family, in a different time zone, with different food. It was a time where we didn’t have all these social networks, so we had to schedule appointments to talk to people via a Skype call. It was rough, but I never thought of giving up.”


Would he advise someone to go there? “Of course. It was one of my best decisions in football. But it’s like I said: you need to prove your worthiness every day. I’m training here in Maceió to get there in better shape than the other guys. A player might dribble me once, twice, but I’ll always come back. I’m not giving up on any chance and I will not hold back. That’s the mentality.”

The roughest moments. “The worst moment of my career was when I was playing for Avaí. I hurt my knee and needed surgery. I thought my career was over because my leg was on the verge of a thrombosis. Fortunately I recovered well and never got hurt again. The confidence after an injury is something you need to work on and it took me a while. Another bad moment was the pandemic. I was alone, far away from my children, from my parents… People don’t usually talk about this, but therapy was one of the main reasons for me to keep my head straight. I was able to evaluate a lot of things, to make better decisions, to get to know me more. I understood some behaviours I had and that made me a better person. With age and experience, we tend to improve as human beings. I did that. I mean, I’m now enjoying things better. I even rode my bike during a whole day in Paris. It was important to see life differently.”

Future of football in Arabic countries, specially Saudi Arabia. “I think that these guys see football as the business that it is. They have the expertise and they know how to make players interested in what will happen. I like the way they do these things and I think there’s room for it to evolve a lot. During the pandemic, I studied a few things on digital marketing, business, and now I’m able to see these strategies more clearly. There’s a lot of room to grow. Saudi Arabia did well in the World Cup, they have talented players… I see that they have these next two, three years, to show what they are made of. The ultimate goal is having a World Cup there and they are building their way into it.”

Do you have any plans of returning to Brazil as a player? “No. I want to complete my ten years in Kuwait and then evaluate what my next step will be. I have two more years under contract. I don’t think that there’s a Brazilian club that might give me the quality of life I have there in Kuwait. I don’t mean moneywise, but security, tranquillity, good work conditions, all that. These are the things I value the most.”

A defender and a goal scorer. “Yes, I was always able to score a good number of goals. I had good seasons in both clubs here and always got my name on the scoring sheet. Some kicks, some fouls, headers… It’s not very usual to see defenders with good stats, but I started as a forward and that’s probably why I can do it.”