Leao discusses what makes Milan a special club and his relationship with the fans

By Oliver Fisher -

Rafael Leao has revealed that he tried to bring Joao Cancelo to AC Milan, and that he feels like some of Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s mentality has been imparted into him.

Leao joined Milan from Lille in the summer of 2019 and has since established himself as one of the most talented forwards in Serie A, winning the league MVP award after the 2021-22 Scudetto season.

He remains arguably the main difference-maker in the squad, as shown at the weekend when he came off the bench to get an assist and a goal in the 5-1 win over Cagliari at San Siro.

Leao has announced the launch of a new exclusive soccer masterclass which contains many tips and drills to train and improve individual skills such as dribbling, ball control, short and long passing, shooting, responsiveness and more.

It is available on Sport.xyz, and as part of the launch he did an exclusive interview with the journalist Fabrizio Romano about the motivations and also gave some insight into his career so far.

Why did you want to do the masterclass?

“I’m a young player and I know so many kids have a dream of becoming football players. So it was like a little help, making videos, content for them, to help them in practices, shooting skills, dribbling… I think small things make the difference on the pitch and they can then watch and improve.”

How much time did you dedicate these skills and how did you develop these movements [dribbling]?

“Honestly I think it’s like instinct, playing on the streets with my friends, watching my idols like Ronaldinho, Cristiano and trying to do it on the pitch like repeat, repeat, repeat. When I was smaller, when I was a kid.

“Now I’m trying to improve on my finishing because it’s really important now, because I feel like a striker, a team player too, but a striker because in that moment you need to be cold and concentrated in finishing. So I think it’s one thing I need to improve.”

When was the first time that you had the feeling you had a special talent?

“I think 16-17, because before that I was at Sporting of course but I saw some of my team-mates used to play more than me, more minutes, more games, and I was thinking to myself ‘why am I not playing?’

“Then two years later, one coach during the preseason coaching came to me and started talking to me and we had a conversation and he told me: ‘Rafa, you can be whatever you want. Just stay focused, I will help you. We will try other things you don’t have and you need to improve’. I think in that moment he really helped me and from there I started to grow up.”

Was there a moment you got some advice from Cristian Ronaldo? What is it like being in the same squad as him?

“I think it’s not about talent, it’s about mentality. How you prepare your game during the week, before training, before the game. So it’s a pleasure, I’m proud to play with him for the national team.

“I think for us young players – because there are a lot of us, Joao Felix etc. – I think it’s a pleasure to have him on the national team. And to play with him for more years, because I think he’s an example for everyone.”

How important is the relationship you have with the Milan fans and what is special about it?

“When I came, my first matches were not too good, for my quality. But I felt the support because when I came the coach didn’t put me on in some games and for me it was difficult.

“But I know when I came to Milan that there were a lot of players with great quality and I was young, but in my head I was thinking ‘stay focused, improve with them, learn every day and wait for the opportunity’.

“In my head I was like ‘I think they know what I can do but I need to push more’, because Milan are an historic club, they’ve won a lot of Champions Leagues, there are a lot of legendary players here, so I need to show them it’s not about talent it’s also about passion.”

Milan are a historic club and a club wins. What does AC Milan have that other clubs don’t have in your opinion?

“Everything. The stadium, supporters, the passion, the city… everything, so many things.”

What would you say to someone that you want to join you at Milan?

“I can say one thing… in the national team I was talking with Cancelo, because he played for Inter and he told me ‘Honestly I really like Milan, Milan is a nice club. When I used to play in the stadium against them I felt the supporters and when I was a kid I really liked the club’.

“I told him ‘Come!’ But he told me ‘it’s difficult’. He was at Manchester City and he told me that it was difficult. I tried! Our new era at Milan is about young players with talent so Cancelo is in the middle [of his career] and it was the perfect match.”

Tags AC Milan Joao Cancelo Rafael Leao


  1. Milan dont have that money to bring cancelo . Nowadays milan dont use to megabuy anymore . but buy cheap sell high . Milan also will lose all the transfer target

    1. Tbh which club doesn’t implement this policy? All club are seeking profit when any players being sold. No one is so generous to let important players (like best young GK, best Attacking/defensive Midfielder, former captain of the club) leave for less than their buy price or even for free right? Wait… That’s us 🤦🏻‍♂️😂

      Basically almost all the teams do that policy if possible. That’s one way to make the club sustainable.

  2. Doom & Gloom, Doom & Gloom, Doom & Gloom… We’ll keep our main players and reinforce the squad, you’ll see.

  3. Had this Pele training video as a kid on vhs tape, been decades since i watched it though but remember it being quite good but maybe my memory doesnt serve me good any longer 😀 it is Pele though which should stand for something 🙂


    Then there were the notorious Vinny Jones one he got banned for because it was more suggestions of how to injure players which i wont post here 🙂
    Yeah before the internet it was limited what we had.

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