Like father, like son. If Bruno Alves carries the aura of a defender who is not interested in taking any prisoners, he knows exactly where those uncompromising traits come from.
Growing up in the fishing port of Povoa de Varzim in northern Portugal, Alves developed a hard-edged approach to life which was also nurtured by his old man.
“He was also a central defender,” smiles the 35-year-old who has already been taken firmly to the hearts of Rangers supporters at the start of the season.
“He was known as one of the five most dangerous defenders in Brazil. He played for Flamengo, Coritiba and Bahia. There is a story in Brazil that Bahia signed my father because their biggest rivals had a striker who kicked everyone. So they got my father there to fight him!
“My father moved from Brazil to play football for Varzim in my home town in Portugal. It’s a special place, because it is a fisherman’s city, they have a difficult life and they bring some of this to the football. There are many talented players from my city who have this attitude, it is something you cannot explain.
“So I learned from my father but also from my city, with this culture they have. When I joined Porto, it was the same, to have this attitude and behaviour, to fight against the difficulties when Benfica and Sporting were bigger teams at the time.
“So I like to play hard on the pitch, but I also like to play fair. All of my career I liked to play like this and many persons that I know, they told me that I came to the right club and the right country because this is the kind of football that I like.”
Having played in Russia, Turkey and Italy since leaving Porto in 2010, Alves’ decision to sample football in the UK was influenced by his international team-mate Jose Fonte, the West Ham United defender.
“I have a really good relationship with Jose,” added Alves. “When I told him about Rangers, he said ‘Bruno, this is a good move for you’. He told me it was going to be physical – in Portugal, we say it is going to be your bitch!
“I’m already enjoying this kind of environment in Scotland, these kind of games. The players don’t stop, they fight for every ball. It is a very good experience for myself. My move here was also because of the expectation on Rangers to win every game.
“I am in a team that wins more often than not, and a team that can always fight for something more. This club is so big in terms of the commitment and the history. It also gives me more experience in life – another country to add to the ones that I have already played in during my career.”
Alves was the subject of rapturous acclaim from the Rangers fans on Wednesday night when he scored his first goal for the club in the 6-0 Betfred Cup win over Dunfermline.
“I also learned this from my father,” he says when asked if he was taken aback by the immediate rapport he has struck up with the Ibrox support. “When you give your best, you will always receive good things. This is what I expect here, just to give my best, do a good job and win.”