Barcelona winger Rafinha admitted that seeing his childhood friends, some of whom were ’10 times better’ than him on the pitch, swallowed up by crime was one of the most important factors that made him focus on making him a footballer himself.
Ravenha grew up in the Restinga area of Porto Alegre and has spoken openly about friends who have been “lost” to drug trafficking and other crimes.
The Brazilian, a €68m summer contract for Barcelona after two fantastic years in the Premier League with Leeds, is also grateful to his family for making sure he never left school or was led the wrong way.
“For someone who was born in a neighborhood like me, it’s hard to stay focused. I’m from Restinga. It’s hard to follow your path and not get lost,” Ravenga said. UOL Esporte.
“Opportunities appear, and there are many. They promise an easier way to make money. Here people get lost. I was a witness, I walked side by side with people who got lost.
“I have lost many friends in the world of crime and drug trafficking…friends who have played 10 times better than me and who would have been in the most amazing football club in the world.”
He continued, “The proximity of these examples was an important factor in maintaining my focus. I knew from a young age what I wanted: to be a football player. Achieving this goal by leaving the neighborhood is a great sacrifice. But my ambition was greater.
“I did not deviate. If today they talk about my ‘magic’ in football, I say… that is the real magic. Thanks to my family, I never left school and ignored the opportunities I had to take the wrong way. I’m here for them.”
Rafinha added that it was his “childhood dream” to play in the Premier League because of all the stars who graced the competition. But many of his childhood stars played for Barcelona, including Ronaldinho – another son of Porto Alegre.
“I received a lot of offers after my time in Leeds, but I knew exactly what I wanted,” he explained. “My childhood idols played for Barcelona, so I had a dream to come here and I spared no effort to make it happen. Ronaldinho Gaucho is one of my assets and he wore the Barcelona shirt. I couldn’t talk to him before coming here, but I’m sure he would tell me to make my dream come true.”