'It's always been my target' - Raphinha reveals how Leeds United helped him realise a childhood dream

The Brazilian wide man has always had an eye on the top flight in England.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 9:47 am

Raphinha has revealed that playing in the Premier League was always a childhood dream before Leeds United came calling.

The Brazilian winger has been in stunning form this season following his arrival to West Yorkshire last summer.

Raphinha has made 26 top flight appearances so far this term, scoring six times and adding a further six assists to his impressive tally.

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Leeds United winger Raphinha in action against Manchester City. Pic: Getty

The 24-year-old cost just £17m from Ligue 1 outfit Stade Rennes and is being hailed as one of the signings of the season across the Premier League.

His trickery and wide play has fast seen him become a firm fan favourite in LS11 and he is now also one of the first names on the team sheet under head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Before his spell in France he spent time with Vitoria Guimaraes and Sporting Lisbon in Portugal having departed first club Avai in Brazil for Europe in 2016.

Raphinha, though, has admitted that he had always held hopes of playing in England from a young age - a dream the Whites have helped become reality.

“Believe it or not, English football has always been my number one target," he told FourFourTwo.

"As long ago as I can remember, when I started watching football on TV, the Premier League was there.

"I enjoy watching English games, because it’s a special league full of tradition, great clubs, managers and players. It’s also competitive, as there are so many top quality teams.

“My desire to play for an English club was my first thought before signing for Leeds, so you can imagine how pleased I am now wearing their shirt in the Premier League.”

Asked about his move to Elland Road last September, he added: "The board said, ‘We’ve accepted an offer from Leeds, so now it’s your call: do you want to leave or stay?'

“If I wanted to leave, there was a private flight waiting for me to go to England and undergo a medical before signing the contract.

“Well, if I said it was a simple decision I’d be lying. It was definitely a tough decision. And I had 20 minutes to give my answer! Pretty complicated, right?

“On the one hand, I’d just helped Rennes reach the Champions League for the first time in their history, and it would have been brilliant to take part in that unique campaign.

"On the other hand, I had the offer from a traditional, huge club like Leeds, who were also enjoying great momentum having returned to the Premier League.”