Leao discusses his new book, penalties and winning the Scudetto: “I was crying with joy”

By Euan Burns -

AC Milan forward Rafael Leao has revealed that he was crying tears of joy when the Rossoneri won the Serie A title in the 2021/22 season, and also discussed an array of other topics in his life.

The Portuguese forward was interviewed by Fabio Fazio on Che Tempo Che Fa sul Nove (via Milan News 24) so that he could talk about his upcoming book, as well as his career as a whole so far.

The interview began by talking about the most recent Serie A match for the Diavolo, which was a 2-2 draw at home to Bologna in which Olivier Giroud missed a penalty in the first half.

Having now missed three penalties in 18 months, many wonder whether Giroud will be taken off of the penalty duties and replaced by Leao. He admitted he would take them if offered, but backed Giroud to succeed.

“I’ll take it. Olivier is a great player who never makes mistakes in these moments. If he has the opportunity to shoot, he will do it and he will score,” Leao said.

He was also asked about the recent incident at Udinese where Mike Maignan was racially abused by some fans in the stand behind his goal. Leao revealed that Maignan did not want to play on at first, and called for more action to be taken against racism in the sport.

“He was very nervous, he didn’t want to play because it’s not the first time it’s happened. The team was with him. Personally I feel sorry for him and for all the black footballers, we have to do something on and off the pitch with the clubs. We have to thank Milan because we stopped in the 16th minute for him. Something always happens every day so racism will never end but we have to fight,” he said.

His new book ‘Smile’

“You have to take advantage of life, you have to be happy and do something that makes you happy. The time had come to do it, many people want to know something more from me and for this reason I talked about my life and my childhood.”

The title ‘Smile’

“It’s my way of life, fighting the people who are against me. It’s a way to make it clear that I don’t need words. ”

His childhood in Lisbon

“I lived with my grandmother because dad and mom worked every day. I have very beautiful memories, with my friends and with the ball. I am proud to have been born there. My friends did things they shouldn’t have done but when I picked up the ball they understood that I had something different.”

Who discovered his talent?

“It was a person who lived in the same building as me. He came to me one afternoon and told me that he was looking for a player in a small club.”

Benfica’s missed opportunity

“My dad couldn’t take me to Benfica for training and so the team picked you up in a minibus. I was very happy for the first day but the bus didn’t come and didn’t come for the whole week. Then when I went to Sporting my life changed.”

Relationship with parents

“My father is a great supporter. My mother often worries above all about what I eat. I’ve never learned to cook, I can only make an omelette at most.”

Arriving at Milan

“Milan helped me grow as a player, I never thought about leaving. When I arrived [Paolo] Maldini helped me a lot. He called me before arriving at the Rossoneri telling me that he was very interested in me and that he wanted me at Milan. I miss him, he is a good person and I owe him a lot. He told me not to make music.”

Relationship with Ibrahimovic

“In the changing rooms, it’s as always. A good person, I would have liked to play more years with him. He is an incredible person, Milan did the right thing in bringing him back with us. With him we are one more, from a mental point of view he is very strong.”

Winning the Scudetto

“It’s a day I will never forget. We were on the bus and the environment around us made me understand that it would be our day. I was crying with joy. The arrival in Piazza del Duomo? Incredible.”

Interest in fashion

“I like fashion shows, particular outfits, brands. I’m trying to enter this world. I’m a bit shy so I don’t see myself parading.”

Why buy the new book?

“Whoever likes my football, if you want to discover my childhood, my life, buy the book because it is a gift from me to you.”

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao
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