'Not for attention or to be masochistic' - Raphinha's Leeds United survival knee-walk explained

Raphinha has treated Leeds United fans to so many unforgettable moments but the sight of him knee-walking the length of Brentford's pitch left many as bamboozled as the defenders he nutmegs.

By Graham Smyth
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 2:20 pm

His cool-as-you-like penalty helped the Whites survive the drop on the final day of the Premier League season and it was his corner, which hit the first man as so many have, that led to Jack Harrison's winner.

If there was any doubt over the Brazilian's commitment to the cause, with a big-money move to Barcelona likely this summer, he dispelled it with his performance against the Bees and the intensity of his celebrations.

There he was at full-time, lying on the turf overcome by emotion. Suddenly he was halfway up a stand, whirling his country's flag over his head and leading the singing as his delighted team-mates watched on.

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And then he was on his knees, embracing Victor Orta, who hasn't and may never make a signing better than this one.

On his knees he remained as he made his way up the Brentford pitch, further incensing home fans whose patience with Leeds' survival revelry was already wearing thin.

The Bees' stadium announcer was on his second round of passive aggressive proclamations about his side never having been in relegation threat, asking supporters to sit tight and await their own heroes emerging for a lap of honour and a Thomas Frank speech, but Raphinha wasn't done. He walked, on his knees, to the opposite end of the ground and then bowed to the turf in prayer.

South American supporters of the Whites were quick to suggest the winger was 'paying a promise' made to some Saint, or God Himself, and offering his thanks with the gesture.

GIVING THANKS - Leeds United's survival prompted Raphinha to walk down Brentford's pitch on his knees. Pic: Getty

The Diocese of Leeds confirms that a knee walk has long been a traditional gesture of gratitude.

"Enduring the discomfort of kneeling to pray, walking on the knees, or walking barefoot are all part of a very long Christian tradition of worship and showing thankfulness and humility before God," said a spokesperson.

"People of many cultures and faiths remove their shoes or kneel in a holy place. It’s certainly always been an element Catholic pilgrimages. We have an Annual Diocesan Pilgrimage to England’s National Catholic Shrine at Walsingham, where some pilgrims walk the last mile barefoot. At the site of Our Lady of Fatima’s Shrine in Portugal, pilgrims walk or crawl the last couple of hundred metres of hard marble pathway on their knees.

"They’re not doing it for attention or to be masochistic; for many it’s an act of faith and self-sacrifice for the pain Jesus suffered for us on the Cross. It’s also a small way some can feel solidarity with the hardships and humiliations of people experiencing poverty or oppression across the world – or simply just a way of humbly giving thanks for prayers answered. Whatever Raphinha’s personal reasons, may God bless him and all who are dear to him!"

Regardless of whether Leeds supporters share their star man's faith, he has blessed them with his presence, skill and goals for two seasons, none more important than the one on Sunday, and for that they are truly thankful.