The first year in England for Brazilian goalkeeper Rafael has been eventful. After impressing between the sticks since his arrival in August, the season was put on pause due to the worldwide pandemic – not an easy situation for anyone, but particularly for those a long way from home.
📅 The journey continues | First three fixtures and kick-off times confirmed for the Royals!8 June 2020
But now that the dates are in the diary for the restart of the football season, our stopper is excited for what’s ahead – getting back onto the field and playing for three points once again when we kick-off against Stoke City, and doing what he loves most.
“I was here with my family – we could not travel, and it has been a difficult time for everyone,” Rafael said. “We have never lived through something like this!
“But there are two points of view. I didn’t play football, but I was with my family. I could play with my children and spend time with my wife. We were well together, but of course football was missing!
“I worked out a lot – I was training at home, but it’s not the same. I missed the atmosphere at the stadium and the games. It was nice to be home but it’s nice to be back in training and seeing my teammates.
“We could not work with the ball – I was just working out, riding a bike, running… for me as a goalkeeper, it’s very difficult. But I’m feeling very well because we are working hard here in training
“Now I look forward to things being like normal – restart the season and we can play football. This is more than our jobs – we love playing football!
“The most important thing for us is coming back to play. I am sure we will be ready and the next nine games I think will be very important for us. The Championship is crazy – you don’t know who will win the games, and maybe more now.”
📺 Season Ticket holders! Register your FREE iFollow account to watch our final fixtures8 June 2020
Our fans will not be in attendance at Madejski Stadium or on the road for the final nine – but will be in virtual attendance via iFollow. For a fan-favourite like Rafael, their absence will be felt.
“I have never played behind closed doors,” he continued. “It will be strange, but we must be ready and finish this season. The most important thing is that we are feeling safe, and I think now we can have a good finish to the season.
“Without the fans, it will be worse than when we have them behind me. They love the club and they love football, and we have a great atmosphere in our stadium. We will miss them. This is football right now, and we must be ready.”