Rafael Leao has revealed a bit about his life away from football and how much he is inspired by two people he works with at AC Milan every day.
Leao is the cover start of the latest edition of the fashion magazine Outpump, and the Portuguese winger has certainly shown his passion for the clothing industry as well as music since he arrived at Milan from Lille in the summer of 2019.
In the paper edition of the magazine, an interview with Leao documented how much he is influenced by fashion, music and more, with his comments relayed by MilanNews and translated below.
“The song that defines me? It’s very difficult, I have to think about it… Young Star Player, by Capo Plaza (smiles),” he said.
Leao gave a bit of insight into his origins and the neighbourhood where he was born back in Portugal.
“All men seem silent. Because where I come from everyone seems invisible. After all, when you grow up in a difficult neighbourhood it is like this, it is practically impossible to be seen: no one looks at you, no one wants to look at you,” he said.
“Through what I do today, football, music, fashion, I want to show all the children in my neighbourhood and similar neighbourhoods that they can do it, regardless of their origins. One thing, however, is fundamental: we must never forget where we come from.”
The 23-year-old spoke about the logistical difficulties of getting to training camp as a child when he was looking to begin his footballing journey.
“When I think of those hours, I think of traveling with my father on the train. I was little. We didn’t know how to pay for the tickets and that transport was the only way to get to the training grounds,” he recalled.
“I think of him reflecting every night, before going to sleep, looking for a way to bring money and food home. Football was my dream and, despite everything, my family managed to give me the tools to make it happen. They have always been by my side.
“For this reason, now I want to give the opportunity to live peacefully, without worries, to those who shared those moments with me. And that’s why I always keep my feet firmly on the ground, because I know well that fame and success are fleeting, especially in football, where one moment you are the best and the next you are the worst. You need to have the right support and great mental consistency.”
On his musical inspirations, Leao revealed that he has a varied taste that contributes to the beat of his life.
“I always try to listen to everything and everyone. In this period, even if it sounds strange, I happen to play Ed Sheeran songs from time to time. I think it is very important to know and understand other types of singers and musical scenes.
“In Milan I had the opportunity to get in direct contact and forge links with many artists: I am thinking for example of Lazza, Capo Plaza and Sfera. They are not only very strong, they are also beautiful people and they are all in love with football.
“In the future I would like to feature with these singers, of course, but I don’t know if they think the same way. In any case, music will continue to be a pleasure and a moment of sharing with my historical friends, I don’t live it and I will not live it with the intention of earning money. It is not a job. For my brand, however, the situation is different.”
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Leao spoke about his streetwear brand ‘SON IS SON’ which has become a real passion for him.
“A child is a child, whether he is 20, 30 or 50 years old. It is a metaphor. It means you can get out of your neighbourhood, but your neighbourhood won’t get out of you.
“The passion for fashion was instilled in me by my father. When I had to leave the house he always made me stop in front of the mirror, he wanted me to check myself, to take care of my appearance.
“My mother was a hairdresser, but he was the one who cut my hair. As a child I wore them long, I still remember the day they gave me a baby girl at school, I went back to him and he cut them off instantly.
“Now he keeps telling me that I am becoming more and more beautiful, he means that I am doing my job well. I have always wanted to create my own brand and here in Italy I am lucky enough to be able to talk frequently about fashion, to participate in fashion weeks.
“Step by step, I am trying to carve out a space in this market. From the very first collection, I wanted to make prices accessible to everyone. I am aware of what it means to work hard to earn money and I am happy that my clothes can be bought by anyone who wants them.”
Finally there was some talk of his time at AC Milan, including the pressure that is put open him by head coach Stefano Pioli and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who Leao has continuously referred to as being a big brother figure.
“The first two years at Milan were difficult, I came from France, where everything was smaller and life was very different. When you arrive at Milan you know that you have to be a winner, that many legends have worn the same shirt as you, winning many trophies,” he began.
“You feel and experience it immediately. After a transition process, I became another person and another player. During this period my family, Mr. Pioli and Ibra, who I keep close to every day, were fundamental.
“Zlatan is an example, he taught me the importance of asking, of always staying focused, even outside the pitch. We speak whenever we can, not as professionals or colleagues, but as men.
“Now I want to take advantage of all the opportunities that are on the horizon, I want to be the protagonist and deserve my place in the starting eleven of the Portuguese national team. And if there is a chance to win, well, it will be very nice.”