A skilled attacking midfielder, he was considered one of the best Portuguese players from his generation, and earned the nickname "Luvas Pretas", from the black gloves he used to wear while playing.
During his career he represented mainly, with equal individual and team success, Benfica and Boavista, also coaching the latter in three separate occasions.
Alves moved to his first major team, Boavista FC, for 1974–75, where he first showed more of his talent, earning him a transfer to Spain's UD Salamanca, where he remained two more seasons.
He then returned to Portugal and Benfica, only to move after one year to Paris Saint-Germain FC. Failing to impress, he immediately moved back to Benfica, where he would play for the next three seasons; he spent two final seasons at Boavista, ending his career during the 1984–85 season to become team coach.
On 28 November 2011, following Swiss Cupelimination at the hands of FC Biel-Bienne (0–3 away loss), Alves was relieved of his duties. However, following poor results achieved by his successor and the club's takeover by Hugh Quennec, he was reinstated as manager in April 2012: in the final five games of the season results improved, with the team achieving four wins and one draw – this included a 2–1 win over eventual champions FC Basel, which ended Servette's streak of 17 consecutive defeats against that opponent as well as ending their 26 match unbeaten run – and the side eventually qualified for the UEFA Europa League.