On the day of his 28th birthday, the Brazilian rightback discussed his OL career to date and his high expectations for the upcoming season.
Rafael, it's your birthday today… how does it feel to turn 28?
Twenty-eight, that may be the age of maturity (laughs).
How's the beginning of preseason going for you?
What's for sure is that I don’t like riding bikes. It's not for me. Jogging at 7 am is also tough. Nobody likes that (smiles). We have three hard sessions a day, but we all know that it’s very important for our preparation for the rest of the season.
You just turned 28 and you're about to play your 100th match with OL (98 matches). What are your goals for the future?
I’m very happy to have played all these matches for OL. I feel good here. I hope to reach the 100-game milestone soon. I want to continue in Lyon, I said it last season and nothing has changed in my mind. I want to stay because I like my life here, the city, the club. In football you never know, but I really want to stay.
Can you tell us about your strong end to last season?
I had a lot of confidence at the time. I was consistent, playing good matches. But it's another season now. A new beginning. I want to do beautiful things and confirm what I have done in the last five months. It's an important goal for me. Versatility? It's important to help the team. That's why I'm here and I don’t mind playing on the left side.
The Champions League is returning to Groupama Stadium. Your thoughts?
It's a competition on its own, it's different. We worked well at the end of last season to achieve this goal. These are matches that all footballers love to play. I like the Champions League and I want to play it with OL. I would like to win a trophy here. I came to OL to win. I hope this is the season it happens.
Have you followed the World Cup, Brazil in particular?
I watched a few matches, including the Brazil-Belgium quarterfinal. We played well in the second half and created a lot of chances, but the goalkeeper made some big saves. I was a little sad for the elimination, but that’s how it is. That’s football. Now I’m rooting for France and England. I would be happy if either of these two became world champion ... Nabil Fekir’s performances? He has participated in every match. That’s good for him… There are a lot of good players in France, like Antoine Griezmann. I hope he goes to the final.