LEEDS UNITED ace Raphinha revealed how he became friends with ‘idol’ Ronaldinho through his dad.
The Whites winger’s father Maninho came from the same Brazilian city of Porto Alegre and was childhood pals with the Samba legend.
Raphinha dedicated his goal against Southampton last month to Ronaldinho’s mum, who recently died from coronavirus, by lifting his shirt to show a message of support.
Ronaldinho sent the new Elland Road favourite a congratulatory video message after he scored his first goal against Everton in November.
And the £17million signing from Rennes said: “Since I was little he was my greatest idol because of the way he played.
“The joy and spontaneity he played with on the pitch and the happiness that emanated from him – I always admired him for that.
“My dad was a childhood friend of his so we ended up being close.
“Because of the person he is, I've always been inspired by him both as a person and a player.
"The most important thing for me is to enjoy myself whilst I'm doing what I love the most, which is playing football.
"When I'm on the pitch, I try to be happy and do my best."
Raphinha, who is yet to be capped by Brazil, has already bagged five goals and five assists since making his debut in November.
One of the bargains of the season, Leeds fans have fallen in love with the Ronaldinho-esque nutmegs and stepovers.
Not only that, Raphinha is one of the hardest workers in Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
On his style, the 24-year-old told Sky Sports: “As we say in Brazil, it's from the cradle.
“It's something you are born with, a God-given gift. God says, 'this guy's getting this gift and he's going to make the most of what I'm giving him'.
"It's just a natural process. There are moments in games that demand one thing and it comes into your mind to do it. It's not trained, it happens naturally as it's something I know how to do."
Leeds travel to West Ham tonight as they look to finish their first season back in the Premier League on a high and break into the top 10.
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