Raphinha turns famous Leeds United religious act into tradition as Barcelona celebrate LaLiga title

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Raphinha has turned his famous Leeds United survival act into an annual tradition in the midst of Barcelona’s LaLiga title celebrations.

A year ago today Brentford and Leeds supporters were bemused to see the Brazilian winger sink to his knees on the turf following the Whites’ great escape from relegation, then progress from one end of the pitch to the other. Raphinha scored a vital penalty in a victory that kept Jesse Marsch’s men in the top flight by the skin of their teeth on the final day of the season. He leapt into the away section at full-time to celebrate with fans and then made his pilgrimage along the pitch.

The ‘knee walk’ has long been a religious gesture of gratitude for a promise made to God or some Saint. A spokesperson for the Diocese of Leeds told the YEP last year: “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. 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.

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"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!"

And in scenes captured by journalist Nacho Jiménez on Saturday night, Raphinha has once again made his knee walk having this time achieved his goal at the opposite end of a league table. Barcelona were comfortable LaLiga winners, with the former Whites star scoring seven goals and making seven more in his 34 Spanish top flight appearances. It wasn’t quite a perfect debut campaign for Raphinha however. Champions League football was a big part of his move to Camp Nou and though he started four of their six games in the group stages, they progressed no further. Falling into the Europa League brought little joy either, as a loss to Manchester United prevented them from reaching the last 16.

But despite persistent rumours of a potential return to the Premier League this summer, Raphinha is adamant that he is loving life with the Catalan giants and wishes to remain there for ‘many more years to come.’

Without the services of the Brazilian international Leeds have once again struggled this season and find themselves in need of a miracle on the final day. Only a win over Spurs, and a positive result for Bournemouth at Everton, will be enough to keep the Whites up.