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Raphinha: “I barely had enough money for the bus, I didn’t eat anything for 8-9 hours. I had nothing to eat.”

Raphael Dias Belloli, known as Raphinha, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a winger for La Liga club Barcelona and the Brazil national team.

Raphinha: “My childhood? It is very complicated. For someone born in a community like Restinga it is difficult to stay focused. I’m from Restinga, a neighbourhood in the South Zone of Porto Alegre. It’s difficult to follow your path and not lose your way.”

Raphinha: “I knew people who did not have a big focus, a family to support themselves, they were lost. At times like these, I lost many friends in the world of crime, in drug trafficking… Friends who were much better than me in football, who could have been in a big club.”

Raphinha: “During my teenage years, in my neighbourhood, opportunities appeared, and there were many. They promise an easier way to make money. And that’s where people get lost. I never got out of the way, but I witnessed, I walked alongside people who were getting lost.”

Raphinha: “I grew up in a community where crime and drug dealing was common but I was strong to keep my focus: to be a footballer. Achieving this goal by leaving a community is a big sacrifice. But my ambition was even greater.”

Raphinha: “That kid from the community full of crime and drug dealing made it through all this on his way to the big stage. If today they talk about my ‘magic’ in football, I say… ‘this is the real magic’.”

Raphinha: “The memories of my beginning are hard, but I wanted to fulfil my dream. When I was 16, I had to go to train in a place far away from home. I was 8-9 hours away from home. I barely had enough money for the bus, I didn’t eat anything for 8-9 hours. I had nothing to eat.”

Raphinha: “When I was 16, after training I would stand in the street and ask people to buy me something to eat or a snack. Some people helped me, others insulted me.”

Raphinha: “When I was 14, I played for Porto Alegre. Then an opportunity came up to play for Audax. I spent a year there and the investors decided to sell the club. When that happened, they made a list to see which players they would fire, and my name was on the list.”

Raphinha: “I really wanted to play for the club that opened the doors for me (Imituba), but my story was different. Many players don’t have the chance to play in Brazil, but they get their chance in Europe. I am one of them.”

Raphinha: “Throughout my journey to become a footballer, music accompanied me. Music was my safe zone. My dad is a musician, so music is always with me.”
Raphinha: “My dad had the chance to make a song with Ronaldinho and that song is always with me, the chorus goes like this ‘Many people think that being a player is easy… Dribbling through life finding a way out to stop suffering.”

Raphinha: “Just after the game against Reims, where I played a good game, the president of Rennes called me into a small room. He told me what was going on with Leeds and asked me to make a decision, within 30 minutes. I couldn’t wait for the next day as the window would close.”

Raphinha: “Just after the game against Reims, where I played a good game, the president of Rennes called me into a small room. He told me what was going on with Leeds and asked me to make a decision, within 30 minutes. I couldn’t wait for the next day as the window would close.”

Raphinha: “It was difficult to leave Rennes, but man… it was the Premier League, the championship of so many stars that I always followed with shining eyes.”

Raphinha: “I think the most important decision of my career was the decision to leave Rennes for Leeds. I had 30 minutes to decide something that would change my life. I had a great 19/20 season with Rennes and we had qualified for the UCL for the first time.”

Raphinha: “Unfortunately, I was aware of the interest from other clubs only in the news, on social media, not from someone from Rennes. Nobody came to me and explained the situation. I was left in the dark, and I confess that it bothered me a little bit.”
Raphinha: “I worked under Bielsa, a very demanding guy who welcomed me with open arms. But it wasn’t a problem, I enjoy working with demanding people.”

Raphinha: “I like to dribble, but I don’t dribble against my teammates in training. During training I try to do the basics, focus on tactical approaches. I dribble during matches, not in training.”

Raphinha: “When I was playing for Leeds, what I had always dreamed about happened… playing for the Brazilian National Team. I had planned that goal since I was 10. Every training session and game had been worth it.”

Raphinha: “When I am asked if I imagined leaving Leeds for the biggest club in the world, which is Barça, and joining the Brazil NT, I answer that I not only imagined it, but I achieved it. With a lot of hard work and dedication I achieved what I always wanted.”
Raphinha: “I had many offers in the summer from multiple clubs, but I knew exactly what I wanted. My childhood idols played for Barcelona, so I had the dream to sign for Barça.”

Raphinha: “I already spoke about my family’s relationship with Ronaldinho and he is one of my idols who wore this shirt. I couldn’t talk to him before I signed for Barça, but I’m sure he would have told me to follow my dream. My dream was to play for Barcelona.”

Raphinha: “I want to make a great performance in the World Cup. I want to win the World Cup for my country. I will do my best to do it.”

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