AC Milan star Rafael Leao has opened up about his experience captaining the Rossoneri earlier this season and the example that he can set for younger players at the club.
Speaking during an interview with Sky Sport Italia (via Milan News), the Portuguese forward discussed an array of topics such as his work in music, his development at Sporting CP and Lille, and the level of player that he has become.
It is well known that Leao has a keen interest in music and makes some of his own when the diary permits, and he explained that football and music are his two passions.
“A lot, I always have fun because they are both my two passions that I have always cultivated over time. I love singing, but it’s something I’ve only been doing recently, with the quarantine I started trying and I felt at ease, then I’m a I’m a guy who doesn’t talk much sometimes, I like to express myself by singing. Football has always been my destiny, ever since I was a child I dreamed of becoming a footballer, and I’m proud to do it in the most important club in the world,” Leao said.
Leao grew up in the Almada district of Lisbon and represented Sporting at the start of his career. After moving to Lille and impressing, he was signed by Milan and has become one of the most exciting wide players in the world.
On his journey, he said: “I’m still young, but if I look back and think about what I’ve done I’m happy. I remember my professional debut at Sporting very well, it was a magical moment because the team of that time wasn’t made up of many young players, I was one of the few. If I had stayed in Portugal I wouldn’t be who I am now. In France perhaps I played at the wrong time, I was still not very mature for football like that, but it was a formative experience for me, I don’t regret anything.”
Leao got the chance to captain Milan in a competitive fixture for the first time this season and it was at home against Verona, a game the Rossoneri won 1-0 with him scoring the only goal.
“Against Verona I was captain, it’s true, incredible. I had been coming from a somewhat so-so week…the choice of the armband made me emotional, it was a decision of the team and the coach, but I feel like a leader even without the armband or number 10, it’s always me and I will always be like this, smiles and character. I’m happy to be an example, I see [Jan-Carlo] Simic who is very strong and I always help him. Who do I learn from? My idol has always been Cristiano Ronaldo, I’m inspired by him.”
Leao was also asked to build his best starting eleven from current players and whether he feels world class.
“I think so, I’m working hard and I’ve done well in recent years, we’ve also won and we want to do it again. I’m still young to be able to grow, there are players who have reached an incredible level with time and experience: I say for example Vinícius Júnior, [Jude] Bellingham and [Kylian] Mbappè, they are absolutely world class and I always like to watch them play. My top 11 would be a 4-3-3 with [Mike] Maignan in goal, [Joao] Cancelo on the right, Theo [Hernandez] on the left, Thiago Silva in the center with… Van Dijk? No… Ruben Dias. Bellingham, [Kevin] De Bruyne, [Luka] Modric in midfield. And in front Leao on the left, Vinicius on the right and Mbappé at center forward,” he said.