Rafael Leao has spoken about what it was like settling into life as an AC Milan player and in particular those who helped him become the winger he is today.
Leao sat on the sofa of the new 19F podcast together with Moise Kean, Capo Plaza and Shaila Gatta, and the Milan star talked about the particular aspects of his career and his personality, from his father’s advice to that of his team-mates.
He also discussed his close friendship with Ismael Bennacer and the strange request of a fan, as well as what it was like sharing the field – both in training and in games – with the legendary Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The full episode can be viewed at the bottom of the article, but Radio Rossonera have transcribed the main comments Leao made and we have translated them below.
Has anyone ever given you advice?
“My dad always, but always different advice. Never give up, stay close to family, always believe in myself, that was the best advice. My father was fundamental to me and he still is, he left work to watch my matches, if I had been alone with my mother all this would not have happened.
“When he went to work in Angola for six months, I had a crisis with football. I was still at Sporting, the sporting director called me and told me that it would be better if I looked for another club. I called my dad and he came home right away.
“I thought I was older and more mature than I actually was, but without him I can’t interpret situations well. When he left he understood how fundamental it was.”
The strangest thing that happened to you involving football?
“I was at the restaurant with Portuguese friends. When we were about to leave, I turned to the left and there were a bunch of Milan fans calling me, ‘Rafa, Rafa!’. Then they asked me ‘Can I kiss your feet’?
“They knelt down and approached my feet, I told them ‘No, no!’. He was a young boy, and there you don’t know how to react… he kissed my shoes (laughs).”
Have you had advice from a particular team-mates?
“Yes, I have always had important team-mates. When I played well, Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t say anything to me. When I played badly he made himself heard, but on technical issues, on details.
“When I got my control wrong he told me with that quality and talent you have you can’t get your control wrong, you have to go through on goal.”
Is there any team-mate who helped you as soon as you arrived in Milan?
“Bennacer helped me. I have a great relationship with him, he is my brother and I hope he comes back soon. There isn’t one episode in particular, he helped me every day and supports me a lot. He is truly my brother.”
Leao is currently on the sidelines after picking up a muscle problem during the recent 2-2 draw with Lecce but he is expected to be back for the game against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.