Allan: I'll Be Back To Live A Game As An Evertonian

In an interview that first appeared in the Official Matchday Programme, Brazilian midfielder Allan reflects on his Everton adventure, including how his move to the Blues came to be in the summer of 2020, the role of “incredible” Carlo Ancelotti, how the Club differed from anything else he had experienced, and a lasting sense of frustration that his plan never turned out as he wished…

The life-altering realities of transfers are often lost in the backdrop of a seemingly unquenchable thirst for rumours and big-money transactions between football clubs.

For example, there were uncontrollable tears in Allan’s household when the Brazilian midfielder broke the news  to his three children that the family would be moving to a new country, having started to lay down roots after two years in the north west of England.

Even Allan, who holds a more pragmatic outlook having been battle-hardened to the cut-throat nature of top-level football, insists he held a deep sadness that things hadn’t panned out as he once hoped after joining Everton from Napoli in the summer of 2020.

“I have great memories, all of my family does and probably because of that there were a lot of tears when we had to leave,” explains Allan, who has since become a father to a fourth child. “My eldest son and my daughter absolutely loved it. They loved the school, they made great friends and they just generally loved living in England.

“They were very, very sad. But this, in the football world, has to be the way. Unfortunately, there is no other choice.

“My wife and I really enjoyed it in England, too. Okay, you don’t have the sun! But to spend life as a family in England is very nice and playing for Everton was a privilege.

“Everton is a different club from anything I have experienced. When I arrived, the people were very, very welcoming and, honestly, I immediately felt at home. Also the fans and Goodison Park, they are so, so amazing.

“My frustration when I look back is not being able to enjoy that love the Evertonians show for the Club for a longer period of time. That is so frustrating, honestly. My goal was always to spend three, four or five of my best years at Everton because I loved the atmosphere that exists at the Club, but we fell into a bad moment and it meant that wasn’t possible. This is football. A lot of things can change in a short space of time and I had to move on.”

"My goal was always to spend three, four or five of my best years at Everton because I loved the atmosphere that exists at the Club."

The opening chapters of the now 33-year-old’s story with the Blues were, as hoped, positive.

Eight days after completing his switch to the Toffees from Italy, Allan was thrust straight into Carlo Ancelotti’s starting line-up - alongside fellow summer recruits Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez - for a 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the delayed 2020/21 season. Three more wins immediately followed to take Everton top of the Premier League table in mid-October.

Another impressive run in December saw Ancelotti’s side sit second in the standings on Boxing Day but, during that sequence, Allan sustained a hamstring injury that would see him sidelined for 11 games and, upon his return in March 2021, the Blues continued to stutter their way through the second half of the campaign to fall out of the European places and finish 10th.

“Carlo was very, very important in  my transfer to Everton because I worked with him at Napoli and we worked very well together,” reflects Allan. “Carlo means a lot to me, not just as a coach but as a person outside of football. We have a beautiful relationship and I also have a very good relationship with Francesco [Mauri] (Technical Assistant) and all of his staff, to be honest.

“Carlo is an incredible manager, of course. His record in every country he has managed - and in Europe - tells you how good he is but he's also a great guy. He's the most important manager I ever had.

“When I came to Everton under him, the first season was mostly very good personally and for the team. We fought until the last game to get into European competition - we fell short after losing to Manchester City on the final day, but it was unfortunate.”

Allan’s first campaign in the Premier League was played almost exclusively in empty stadiums due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a fact he continues to rue to this day.

“It felt like a good fit for me and Everton,” he explains. “I remember my first game at Tottenham, when we won 1-0, and I played very well. After that game, even though the fans couldn’t be there because of the pandemic, I felt their love, a lot of love, with messages and I soon felt very important for the Club. This was a beautiful feeling for me and it definitely gives you confidence.

“At that time [during the pandemic], it was a bad moment for the world, not just football. It’s not good for the games because when you play football without fans then the games become very different. So different.

“I will never forget the first game I played with any fans - we played Chelsea and won 1-0 - there were 2,000 fans inside Goodison Park but that feeling of love, even from a small number of fans, you will remember.

“The way the Evertonians react to actions on the pitch, the way they fight with the team on the pitch was and is incredible.”

Ancelotti’s departure for Real Madrid in the summer of 2021 shocked all connected to Everton and the subsequent appointment of Rafael Benitez saw a positional tweak for Allan.

After spending his first term at Goodison Park in a role he describes as a Mezzala, an Italian term for relentless central midfielders who play wide and advanced of a single deep-lying midfielder, the former Vasco da Game and Udinese man was handed more defensive responsibilities under Benitez.

Allan quickly got to grips with the switch and remained an integral part of the starting line-up, before a dismal run of form led to Benitez’s departure in January 2022 and an adductor injury sustained around the same time curtailed the Brazilian’s momentum.

“The second season was more difficult,” Allan recalls. “For me, personally, I had a lot of injuries and as a team we had to fight against relegation. Of course, this was not what I wanted but this is football, no?

“The most difficult injury for me was when I started to feel pain in my adductor. It made it very difficult to be myself. It was difficult to train because every time I would feel a lot of pain and at that moment we took the decision, along with the manager Frank Lampard, to stop playing and to get it sorted.

“I was desperate to play and to help but the problem was affecting what I could do physically. Sometimes you have to get through tough times. Thankfully, we did enough to stay up and even though I have left the Club now, I remain an Evertonian.

“I still follow every game and I am always wishing the best for the team and for the Club. I still have a lot of friends at Everton and hopefully there are much, much better times ahead now with the manager, Sean Dyche, who is doing a very good job.”

Allan’s eventual departure came in late September 2022, with Abu Dhabi-based club Al Wahda bringing his European football adventure to an end. But it was, he reveals, a move that came somewhat out of the blue.

“It was difficult to leave, for sure,” insists Allan. “When we beat Crystal Palace to stay up on the last day of the season, the reaction of the fans just showed how much the Club means to the people. It is everything to them and that’s something special to be part of.

“After that game and before I went on holiday, the coach told me I was important for the team and he wanted me to stay - and that made me feel very, very happy because that was always my plan to stay and to be important. But then I came back and one week before the transfer window closed, things changed, which they can because this is normal in football.

“It can happen. But for me, that moment was very bad because in my mind I wanted to stay at Everton and fight for my place in the team and be part of a better future at the Club.

“In the end, it was not possible and I had to take another adventure for me and my family. I am happy now but I still have a lasting feeling of frustration that I couldn’t show all of my potential at Everton.

"I wanted to show what I can do but for too much of my time, physically I wasn’t able to show it because of the injuries.”

"I will definitely [return to Merseyside] one day. I don’t know exactly when but, for sure, I will be back and live it as an Evertonian.”

With the relentless demands of the Premier League no more, Allan, a family man, is enjoying more time with his family in the Middle East, but insists he is determined to one day return to Merseyside to experience Everton in a different capacity.

“It is very nice here [at Al Wahda],” he says. “Here, it is a different situation and I have more time with my family and I am able to be with my kids more. The league is good with a lot of good players and it is an amazing country. You can still have difficult games, good games, but I have more time now with my kids, so this is very nice for me.

“The kids still have their Everton shirts. They will still go to get them and wear them now when they play football inside the house. It is always a nice feeling to see them do that because I have so many good friends and memories of Everton and that just brings it to the front of your mind again.

“I would love to come back to England one day and experience the atmosphere of Goodison as a fan. I would also love to visit the new stadium, which looks amazing. I will definitely go one day. I don’t know exactly when but, for sure, I will be back and live it as an Evertonian.”