'That prompted the Brazil management to look at Leeds United and my football' - Raphinha on role Whites played in Brazil call up
Raphinha has credited Leeds United for their ‘very important’ contribution to his first international call up for Brazil.
The Whites winger has finally been able to join up with Tite’s squad this week, having been blocked from doing so last month due to the UK government’s quarantine rules and a Premier League pact to keep players from travelling to red listed countries.
A compromise was reached with FIFA to allow Raphinha to travel for three World Cup Qualifiers and while he must quarantine on his return at a hotel or facility chosen by Leeds, he will be available to train and play.
The 24-year-old arrived at Elland Road a year ago this week and established himself as not only a player of incredible skill and importance for Leeds, but a fan favourite.
His performances, goals and assists in the Premier League have led to predictable speculation over his future and potential moves to Champions League clubs, but speaking at a press conference in Brazil this week he admitted he owes a debt of thanks to the Whites for their role in his ascent to international football.
“Since I’ve arrived at Leeds, not only the players but all of the managerial staff and club staff have been very important for my quick evolution inside the club,” he said.
“They made me feel confident and comfortable which allowed me to have good games and contribute with my way of playing. That was very important for my [Brazil] call-up, because that prompted the national team managerial staff to look at Leeds and my football. Leeds’ contribution was very important.”
Raphinha also singled out head coach Marcelo Bielsa for demanding the best of him and his team-mates at Elland Road.
“He is a very demanding coach, on and off the pitch,” said the winger.
“I believe that because of my way of being - I’m very demanding with myself - I ended up joining two good things for the club. Bielsa always demands the most, gets the most. If the player can understand that it is the best way to evolve individually and collectively, every player has a great chance to evolve.”
Brazil face Venezuela away from home at Estadio Olímpico in Caracas on Friday morning at 0.30am before travelling to take on Colombia at Estadio Metropolitano in Barranquilla on Sunday night at 10pm.
The final World Cup Qualifier of this international break takes place on Friday October 15 at 1.30am, when Brazil host Uruguay at Arena da Amazônia in Manaus.
Leeds are at Southampton 37.5 hours later, but expect Raphinha to be available.