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Interview

Rafinha: 'We're on the right track'

It’s done! After nine days in Doha, Bayern returned to Munich on Wednesday and will enjoy a day off from training on Thursday. At the end of the training camp, fcbayern.com spoke with Rafinha. The 31-year-old is now in his sixth season in Bayern colours, and he spoke about the training camp, coach Carlo Ancelotti and his life in Germany.

Rafa, how do your legs feel after the training camp?
Rafinha: "Training was fun but also very tough, so my legs are heavy and tired. But that’s part of pre-season training. The good thing is that everyone is fit bar Thiago and Jérôme Boateng. I think we’re on a good path towards a successful second half of the season and winning as many titles as possible at the end of the campaign.”

You’ve had many coaches in your career in Brazil, Germany and Italy. What’s Carlo Ancelotti like as a coach?
Rafinha: "Mr Ancelotti is really nice – he’s a great guy. He’s a bit like the father figure for the team. He talks a lot to us players and you can always go to him when you’ve got a problem. That’s great. Moreover, he’s had great success in his career and I hope we can win titles together with him for Bayern.”

Looking back, who’s been the most important coach in your career?
Rafinha: "That was Antonio Lopes. He brought me into the first team at Coritiba and opened the door for my career. I’m really thankful to him even to this day. I made my professional debut under him – as a left back!”

Left back? How come?
Rafinha: "Maybe it was some divine intervention. At the time I was playing with Juniores do Coritiba, the club’s second team. There were three left backs in the first team but then one was injured, one suspended and the third ill. Lopez then brought me in even though I was, like today, a right back. I was able to train for three days before playing. That was the beginning of my dream of playing professional football. After that I did everything I could to stay in the first team – and that’s where I stayed.”

You came to Germany in 2005 and now even have a German passport.
Rafinha: "I’ve even had both countries tattooed on my arm: my homeland Brazil and my adopted home Germany. I’m proud to say I’m German – it’s a great honour for me. Germany has done so much for me and my family. I love this country and the people. In the chemist, the bakery and the supermarket – everyone is nice. My family and I feel really good here.”

In sporting terms, you have a lot of competition at Bayern.
Rafinha: "You play with some of the best players in the world at Bayern. I have the best right back in the world ahead of me in the form of Philipp Lahm. Nevertheless, I still get to make over 30 appearances a season through rotation, and I’m really pleased by that.”

Do your parents sometimes say to you jokingly: Rafa, you’re not Brazilian anymore?
Rafinha: (laughs) "Sometimes – when I speak Portuguese with them I sometimes mix in some German words and they say, ‘What? What did you say?' That sometimes happens to me without even realising.”

How are you managing with the snow that now awaits you in Munich?
Rafinha: "I like the snow! But not at the training ground. Training isn’t easy for me when it’s that cold, but I’m used to it now in Germany. You have to wrap up really warm, but I hope it warms up again as quickly as possible.”