Days before the game, they filled the streets, lighting flares and chanting his name. The words "thank you, captain," rang around the city like a mantra.
The game was always going to be a sellout; there had been queues to reach the ticket booths at the Couto Pereira. Coritiba had done just about enough to avoid relegation from Brazil's top flight, meaning there was nothing much to play for, but that mattered little. He would be there, for the final time. 25,550 people flooded the stands. It was their highest attendance of the season.
This was a party, certainly, but one tinged with sadness. Coritiba, one of Brazil's most historic clubs, were bidding farewell to perhaps their biggest idol of the modern era.
As kick-off approached, he made his big entrance. The reception was huge but there were to be no real histrionics on his part. Not that that surprised anyone familiar with him. For Alexsandro de Souza – better known as Alex – has always been one to shy away from the fanfare when possible.
Read the rest of this piece on the Mirror website.