Alex Telles interview: How music has added to the sense of family at Al Nassr

Family, and music, offer Alex Telles an escape from the pressures of professional football.

It just so happens that he can easily combine both.

“I love listening to music,” Al Nassr’s Brazilian full-back reveals in an interview with the Roshn Saudi League. “I'm a guy who plays a few instruments; my wife is a singer-songwriter, so we're always involved with music.

“For me, it's something that takes my mind off football a little, makes me go in other directions and sometimes be able to relax my head. 

“I really like listening to music when I'm having dinner with the family, when I'm at home enjoying with friends and, of course, having a good barbecue, which is our culture back in Brazil.

“We like to get our friends together.”

Music has helped Telles, who impressively plays the piano, guitar, drums and various percussion instruments, settle in at Al Nassr.

He made the move from Europe to Saudi Arabia this summer, ending his three-year stay at Manchester United – he spent last season on loan with Sevilla in Spain – to join one of the fastest-growing leagues in football.

From Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil, Telles has smoothed the transition by forging a close bond with compatriot Anderson Talisca, or with Portuguese-speaking former teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Otavio.

Again, a passion for music has brought about quick harmony.

“I already knew Talisca before I arrived and he knew me,” Telles says. “We have really gotten to know each other here in the club, and a friendship like that is a very good energy.

“We’re very similar. He loves music just like me and other Brazilians. We're always happy. We like to listen to music; we like to play games all the time. And we came to an agreement that every time we'd score a goal, we'd celebrate together. We'll always try to bring that joy into the group.”

Al Fayfaa v Al Nassr : Saudi Pro League

Connected by music, it contributes to a real sense of family inside Al Nassr. Telles, who has already tasted success with the club having won the summer’s King Salman Club Cup, was there to welcome Otavio into the Riyadh club when the Brazilian-born winger arrived from Porto in August.

The pair share not only Brazilian roots - Otavio became a Portuguese citizen in early 2021 - but also experiences from the dressing-room at Estadio do Dragao. Telles represented the Porto also, from 2016 to 2020. 

“I've known Otavio for practically eight years,” he says. “I played with him at Porto for four years and we have a very good relationship on the pitch, and off it, too.

“Our families know each other; they're always together. So that's one more player. He's someone who came to help the club, who has a huge heart, is a star, has played a lot of football. 

“So, they're two people I have a very positive contact with here. Talisca helped me a lot when I arrived and, when Otavio arrived, I was able to help him. I think this is part of a winning group.”

Of course, there’s one other big personality at Al Nassr that has proved pivotal in the club’s recent fine form. Just as he did in convincing Telles to follow him from Manchester to Riyadh. 

“I spoke to Cristiano before I arrived,” says Telles, who reveals he watched videos of Al Nassr’s pre-season matches before signing in July. “I sent a message to him, and he told to me to come straight away. He was also a facilitator of the [move]. We’d been in direct contact, sorting out the whole process of me coming here.

“I’m very grateful to him for being part of this process and I’m very happy to be here with him. And we want to win more titles, like we already have been doing.”

Ronaldo looks intent on doing just that. The Al Nassr captain has been superb this season, and heading into Matchweek 16 perches at the summit of both the RSL’s goalscoring (15) and assist charts (joint-top, with seven).

“Of course, with Cristiano, every day he gets more experienced and increasingly decisive,” Telles says. “Just look at the goals he’s scoring, helping us out in every sense.

“I would be biased talking about Cristiano, the numbers he has done, what he’s done for football. I was fortunate enough to meet him at Manchester United and he’s still the same decisive player here at Al Nassr.

“And he’s more than just an excellent player; he’s a great leader. He’s a guy who always takes responsibility in the dressing room, helps everyone and is always building a good atmosphere. That’s the role of a captain, a reference point like he is.”

Like Ronaldo, Telles wants to give more than only on the pitch as well. He scored his first goal for Al Nassr - a sublime free-kick - in the 3-1 victory at Al Wehda in Matchday 13, but is in the RSL to help the competition as a whole grow at pace.

“I’ve been in a few leagues with big teams; Al Nassr is another big team for me in my career,” he says. “We came across a lot of players from Saudi who play at a high level. I believe that we have come to help, but we also learn a lot from players who were already here.

“The level has evolved, not only in Al Nassr, but in all the teams in the league. We’re very happy to come here in Saudi and to be able to show our football. It’s time to raise the name of the league in the eyes of the world. 

“I just want to say to fans of Al Nassr that I’m very happy and very motivated to be here. It’s a choice I made together with my family. I’m a guy who strives to improve every day, together with my teammates. 

“And you can be sure that we, as players, are going to give our best to bring happiness to you, the fans, to the club. And, consequently, by making you happy, I’ll be bringing joy to my family.”