'I take away only good memories, it was great'
He came with a backup team! When Bayern pro Rafinha entered the media centre at the Säbener Straße on Tuesday afternoon, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Thiago, David Alaba and Renato Sanches were there to accompany him. Franck Ribéry and Robert Lewandowski entered shortly afterwards. They all witnessed a special and emotional press conference in which Rafinha announced his departure from the German record champions after eight years in Munich.
"It was a wonderful eight years with many beautiful moments at Bayern Munich. I'm very happy about it. But every footballing career comes to an end at some point. I only take away good memories, it was great," said the 33-year-old defender. After Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry, Rafinha is the next veteran to leave Bayern at the end of the current season.
"Rafa was a very good transfer back then. He was a reliable, positive and popular player and person in his eight years. He's won everything there is to win in club football with FC Bayern and he's been an important part of our success in recent years," said chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "With Rafa, Bayern lose an extremely valuable player. He was always there when the team needed him, whether as a right or left-back, or a midfielder."
„"I didn't think I'd stay so long in Germany"”
Rafinha joined Bayern in the summer of 2011 after a season with the Italian first division club Genoa. Since then he has experienced everything in football: Great triumphs and bitter defeats. Sixteen trophies adorn his CV, including six German championships, three DFB Cup victories and wins in the Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Supercup. The highlight was undoubtedly winning the treble.
"I had wonderful moments every year but 2013 was special for us, of course. We won the treble. It was a great year, not just for me but also for the club and all the players," he said. Speaking of the number 13: His shirt number coincides with the time spent by the defender in Germany. From 2005 to 2010 at Schalke 04, then from 2011 in Munich. Recently, in the home game against Hannover 96, he completed his 500th league game in Europe.
"I didn't think I'd stay in Germany that long," admitted Rafinha. He came to Schalke at the age of 18, "and It was difficult for me in the early years. The language, the climate - that's hard for a boy," he recalled, thinking back to his beginnings in Europe. "Now it's been 13 years, and for three years I've been a German citizen. It was a great 13 years," he said, before his feelings overcame him and one or two tears ran down his cheeks.
"We've been together for so long," said Rafinha, looking at his teammates who applauded him. "We're a family, we're together every day, we know each other very well." The player made no secret of the fact that he will miss his teammates. What happens in the summer is still open. "I may still play in Brazil or Europe. I don't know yet. I'll decide that after the season," the right-back said. "We wish Rafa all the best for his future," said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Obrigado, and thanks for everything Rafinha!