While there will not have been many people that had seen the Brazilian international in action, his goalscoring record for Heerenveen was highly impressive.
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In total, Alves fired in 48 goals in as many outings for the Eredivisie club - a record that captured the attention of Brazil head coach Dunga.
However, from the off, the forward found it hard to replicate that form in the Premier League, so much so that when Manchester United visited the Riverside Stadium seven years ago today, he had failed to score in his first eight outings.
On this occasion, though, Alves would not have to wait too much longer to break his goalscoring duck in England.
And the Boro number 12 was not done there. In the 56th minute, Jeremie Aliadiere beat Wes Brown in an aerial duel and when the ball broke kindly for Alves, he curled his shot inside Van der Sar's far post.
Yet, it would not be a match-winning impact from Alves as United hit back 16 minutes from time.
Substitute Park Ji-Sung picked out Wayne Rooney inside the Boro area and despite not producing the cleanest of shots, it got the better of home goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer thanks to a deflection off David Wheater.
There were suggestions after the final whistle that Alves's two-goal contribution would see his career at Boro take off, but such performances never materialised.
When he left for Al-Saad in 2009, Alves had scored just 13 goals, each of which cost Boro almost £1m when you take into consideration the transfer fee that he commanded.
BORO: Schwarzer; Young, Wheater, Pogatetz, Taylor; O'Neil, Boateng, Arca, Downing; Alves (Sanli), Aliadiere (Johnson)
MAN UNITED: Van der Sar; O'Shea (Hargreaves), Ferdinand (Pique), Brown, Evra; Ronaldo, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs; Tevez (Park), Rooney