EXCLUSIVE: The Liverpool goalkeeper grabbed a sensational late winner against the Baggies in May just three months after his dad had died in a tragic swimming accident
So often in sport, the relentless, naked pursuit of the prize can obscure the very real, very human people behind.
Sometimes, humanity still emerges, the raw emotion of a wider, deeper experience slicing through the superficiality of the game. Alisson, and his remarkable goal for Liverpool, is a perfect example.
The tears when he scored a last minute winner were not for the sporting achievement, but for the loss of his father, who died in a tragic swimming accident. And for the many millions of people who suffered a similar story during Covid lockdown.
The goalkeeper is candid now, in explaining his emotions, his experiences, sadly shared with so many people who lost a loved one and could not even pay their respects, just as he couldn’t last February.
Only in June was he able to return home to Brazil to be with his family. “It was really, really difficult. But I know I am not alone in this kind of feeling,” he explains, in a candid, moving interview with this newspaper.
“I believe a lot of people are going through the same thing because of the situation of the world. I have many friends who lost their friends or their grandparents because of the Covid.
“With my father, it was a different situation but you still lost someone that you loved. This experience gives you something to stand by those people who are in need also.”
His miraculous goal, in the 95th minute, gave Liverpool victory at West Brom in the penultimate week of the season, to somehow give them a Champions League place, when all seemed lost.
The emotions were raw, heartbreaking, the Brazilian’s tears flowing freely as pointed to the sky. Everyone knew. They just knew. Now he is back from his visit home, and somehow still positive, still thankful.
“Being there seeing my mother, seeing my brother, seeing my grandmother, everybody. It was an emotional moment of course, but it was good. It was a relief for my soul, for my mind,” he explains quietly.
“It was really needed from my side and my family’s side. I went to my farm where me and my father spent a lot of time together. It was emotional but it was good for me. It was not something bad you know.
“I will always miss my father. I will always miss the moments we had together as a family. He was always there. It was two years since I went to my hometown, a long, long time. It was good to be there, to see how my family is in this and they help each other.”
Alisson’s faith, he says, gives him the strength to endure the pain: “I really feel that God is giving me the power, the strength to keep on going with everything.”
But the love from the club he plays for, the support of the fans and the wider sporting public during his tough times has also lifted him, and allowed him to come back refreshed and ready for the football challenge ahead.
“The love of the club – and the football community – is something I will never forget. It was kind of a surprise – in a good way – to me to see how many people were feeling something about me, about this moment.
“The world was in a difficult moment, a difficult place. Now we can have more hope for the future.”
Not that there was any surprise at Liverpool’s backing, from his team-mates right through the club. That is why he so happy to sign a long term contract to keep him at the club for the rest of his career.
Now he wants to give something back. In talking about his experience, in helping others deal with the grief of loss; of not being able to see loved ones before they died, after they died. But also make the people happy, as Shankly once said.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere else. Neither me nor my family. The trust I have in this club to be fighting for big things and I want to help my teammates in this club to push for those goals, to keep on going and winning things, winning titles.
“My family, we felt really loved by everyone. It gives you a warm hug in that moment….”
The goal – THE goal – is poignant for so many reasons…but also for the beauty of its sporting drama. And back home in Brazil, there was only one topic of conversation, even from Neymar!
“ In Brazil, everyone I spoke to… within two minutes they were always mentioning the goal! It was something amazing, even more special because we qualified for the Champions League for this season.
“It put a little bit of sauce on all of this. Now let’s try to win it and it will be even more special!
“Yes, even Neymar spoke about it. Everybody! They were all so excited about it! I played in training at the Copa America up front. We had a session when we were just having fun.
“So I went up front and I scored some goals! For me, it wasn’t a surprise! But it was nice to hear what people thought about it.”