Raphinha’s touching Ronaldinho tribute explained as Bielsa waxes lyrical

Raphinha Ronaldinho shirt tribute Leeds

Raphinha’s shirt message he revealed after scoring against Southampton on Tuesday evening was a tribute towards Ronaldinho’s mother, the winger has explained.

Leeds moved in to the top half of the table with a 3-0 win over the Saints at Elland Road. The Whites struck three times after the break to earn their first win in three games.

Mesmeric Brazilian Raphinha was once again named Man of the Match. He capped their win with the third goal, bending home a fine free-kick. He now has five goals and five assists from his 20 Premier League appearances for Leeds. Little wonder, some of the biggest clubs in world football are taking note.

In scoring his goal, Raphinha pulled up his shirt to show a tribute to Ronaldinho’s mother, Dona Miguelina Eloi Assis dos Santos. She sadly died aged 71 at the weekend from coronavirus.

The tribute read:  “A lot of strength for the Assis Moreira family. Rest in peace, Dona Miguelina.”

Speaking to Globo Esporte through his advisor, Raphinha described his sadness at the loss of a family friend.

“Today was a very special game for me,” he said.

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“I entered the field with immense sadness for the departure of Dona Miguelina. Anyone who knows us knows that our families have always been very close and I was very fond of her. In addition to being a very dear person, she was the mother of my greatest idol. I just hope she is at peace and resting. I dedicate this goal to the whole family. We will always be together.”

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Bielsa hails difference-maker Raphinha

After the match, Marcelo Bielsa explained how Raphinha was used in a less-preferred left-wing role to upset unorthodox Saints full-back Jan Bednarek.

The winger has been the pick of Leeds’ signings this season and Bielsa said: “He’s a player who unbalances teams by himself.

“He’s very attacking, very competitive. He provides a mixture that is not very common because he works a lot and on top of that, he is creative and can unbalance teams.

“As a coach, I can add very little to his game. The best thing you can do with players who are so spontaneous is to let them be themselves.”

Raphinha also joined his Leeds team-mates in paying tribute to the life of Val Crosby, the grandmother of midfielder Kalvin Phillips. She passed away last Thursday and the team posed with a shirt bearing her name after the victory.

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