Breaking Ankles with Rafael Leão
Speed and dribbling are two words that sound synonymous to Kylian Mbappe or Vinícius Júnior but Rafael Leão is here to stem that tide. We have all seen him break smiles and score goals for fun but very few of us know about the man’s incredible journey to the summit of Football.
Rafael Leão Biography
In this article, we will briefly cover interesting aspects of his early life and biography while we unfurl some eye-catching details of his life outside 90 minutes of football such as his family, religion, ethnicity, girlfriend, personality and so on. Stay with us to get better acquainted with ‘Rafblinks.’
He is one of seven children born to Antonio and Conceição Leão. He has three brothers of which only one is known by name, Jefferson. On the other hand, he has three sisters with two of them being twins, Nadia and Paulo while the other one is called Bianca. His family’s surname means ‘Lion.’
Rafael comes from an ethnically rich background like other compatriots of his such as William Carvalho and Nuno Mendes. His father is Angolan and his mother is Sao Tomean.
Despite not making any public displays of his affiliation to faith, he is still believed to be an adherent of Christianity owing to his name and family background.
He was born in Almada on the 10th of June in the year 1999. He was raised in a middle-class household, in the neighborhood of Bairro da Jamaica. His father was a civil servant whereas his mother was a hairdresser. Rafael shared a very close-knit bond with his siblings and in particular, with his brothers. The latter played football with him and this love for the beautiful game took shape at a very young age.
“I always played football there, all day long. When I can I go back to Portugal and I go there, my relatives are there and I go to visit them.”
The young boy was captivated by two players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. He says that he would try to emulate their silky flicks and tricks on the pitch and incorporate them into his game. Seeing his ebullient passion for the game, he was enrolled into Amora FC’s youth programme. It was his good fortune that the President of Amora FC lived near him.
With regards to his schooling, formal documentation remains elusive but we do know that he attended one of the local schools in Almada. Reflecting back on his school days, he says:
“I think I was a smart boy. When I played for Sporting I went to the same class with my field mates. When they started messing up I started too, then we had to go out because our professor couldn’t continue.”
Aiming for the Stars
His first big move was planted when he took part in a tournament organized by Amora FC. Over there he impressed scouting members from Benfica who approached him and sent him for a few weeks to Foot 21, a small football school associated with Benfica. He agreed to join Benfica by the end of 2008 but nothing really materialized.
“Three weeks later I signed with Benfica, but I didn’t have the possibility to go to training because Lisbon was far away, and they told me to be calm, that someone would come and accompany me to training every day. I signed with Benfica, I waited a week: they never arrived. After a week later my dad contacted them and said I would go to another club.”
As his parents couldn’t afford to commute to Lisbon, he joined arch-rivals Sporting CP instead. The latter provided better concessions for the boy and his family so it was a move that benefitted all the parties involved.
All Eyes on Him
With his incredible skills and technicality, he had all his coaches enthralled. His former coach Tiago Fernandes took it a step further by naming him the best player to have ever played for Sporting CP’s academy. Seeing his paramount maturity, he was given the captain’s armband and advanced through the youth ranks with a swagger.
He made his senior debut for Sporting at 17 years of age and won the Portuguese Cup in his first season. However, his time there would come to a bitter end as he left the club due to a violent onslaught on him, other players, and staff members by a small group of disgruntled fans.
Reaching The Summit
Rafael joined Lille as a free agent but the drama wouldn’t end there as Sporting CP filed a lawsuit against Lille as they believed the transfer violated their terms and conditions. He wanted to leave before even stepping onto the pitch in Lille’s colors but was convinced to stay eventually. In his first season, he finished as a runner-up in Ligue 1 where he bagged 8 goals in 26 competitive matches.
His impressive output on the pitch had him on the radar of several clubs and it was seven-time UCL winners, AC Milan who signed him for €35m. His breakout year would come during the 2021/22 season where he would even go on to win the Scudetto. His palatial form earned him a place in Portugal’s 25-man squad for the 2022 World Cup where their journey would end in the Quarter Finals. He reached the semifinals in the UCL during the 2022/23 season after losing a spot in the final against local rivals Internazionale.
Success with regards to Rafael Leão isn’t merely confined to football as he’s also making a name for himself in the music industry. He is a rapper who goes by the name WAY 45. He explained his relationship with Music in an interview:
“For now I see music as a hobby. I don’t think I’ll get to the top like this. But I try to do things well because I like it, even for people to understand what I mean.”
Rafael released a 7-track EP called ‘Beginning’ in 2021 and his music is also available on YouTube as well as Spotify. One of his songs is linked below:
Style of Play
His dribbles and burst of pace are deadly combos that serve as a perfect nightmare for any defender. This style of play has prompted numerous comparisons to PSG’s starman Kylian Mbappe and it’s not hard to see why he’s been labeled the ‘Portuguese Mbappe.’ Although the culmination of Portugal’s journey in the 2022 World Cup was rather disappointing, there were lots of positives to look back at for Rafael. The game against Switzerland in the Round of 16 is where he put his mettle on worldwide display, showing that he is indeed a force to be reckoned with.
Lifestyle and Personality
Though he enjoys the company of friends and family members, he prefers spending vacations alone. Moreover, his unwavering smile is what points to the positivity with which he approaches life, also leading to a short-lived trend on social media where people posted videos playing football with a smile on.
Given his incredible rise to prominence, it’s no secret that material opulence is bound to follow suit. First up, he has an exotic collection of cars and owns a luxurious apartment in Milan. Furthermore, he has a very strong sense of fashion and he credits his dad for inculcating it in him.
Some Intriguing Facts about Rafael Leão
- A fan of Ed Sheeran’s music
- His neighbors once filed a complaint against him for playing very loud Music
- He is very close with Twitch streamer and Social Media sensation IShowSpeed
- Named Serie A’s MVP for the 2021/22 season
- His goal against Sassuolo in December 2022 took only 6.2 seconds which is the fastest goal ever scored in Europe’s top five leagues
- Youngest Portuguese player to score 10 goals in Serie A
Rafael Alexandre da Conceição Leão
Rafblinks, WAY 45
Date Of Birth
June 9, 1999
Place Of Birth
Angolan, Sao Tomean
6ft 2in (1.85m)
- Antonio Leão (Father)
- Conceição Leão (Mother)
Club Jersey Num
- Foot 21
- Sporting CP