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Rafael, Saitama’s saluting leading man

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“Very few allow it to be here, ” states Rafael Silva, nevertheless sweating from a high-energy two-hour training session on a warm evening in Abu Dhabi. “It's a great honour and great source of pleasure. We managed to get right here though a great collective work and effort. And we're happy to represent Japan here. ”

Having scored nine objectives en route to the 2017 AFC Champions League title – 1 goal shy associated with tournament top scorer Omar Khribin (10) – the 25-year-old Brazilian has been important for Urawa Reds' achievement this year.

In fact , in case you were to distil Silva’s contribution to some single moment, then few would claim with his flash associated with perfection in the 2nd leg of the AFC Champions League final. Silva scored both in legs of that decider, but the 88th moment second-leg rocket against Al Hilal would be the one long kept in mind by Saitama’s Grays.

The goal

“There was this massive expectation, ” states Rafael of the match up, played at the Saitama Stadium. “It was obviously a very hard game, really tense. Then arrived the goal. ”

“Great relief and then joy” are how he describes their emotions following the 88th minute Fifa 18 Player Auction coins goal – a flashpoint associated with sudden opportunity, speed and power. “I saw that my defender wanted to foresee my movement to steal the ball. I positioned personally to protect the ball first and then turned in the final moment to beat him. ”

Rafael's trademark goal celebration – a slick and smooth salute - had been cut short through team-mates swallowing your pet in celebration. Whenever Rafael got back upward, he was overcome with emotion as he hugged other Brazilian and golf club team-mate Mauricio Antonio.

"It was a second in which several things suddenly passed through my head, " says Rafael. "How I began. Where I’m through. Where I am today. How far I’ve arrive and how I ended up. And then there was also the feeling of genuine joy fuelled through all the support within the pitch and in the stands. ”

The Saitama Salute

Statistics suggest that Rafael might soon be performing his goal celebration in UAE. The Saitama Salute is exclusive to Rafael’s time with Urawa and only debuted this year.

“It's (the salute) an acknowledgment to the fans, ” he states. “It's about regard.

“It came to me personally in the first match up of the Champions League. I was really dedicated to the match but then suddenly, while thinking about scoring, it simply popped into my head - the salute, with my other hand tucked behind my back. It looks like it was a good idea, because all the Urawa fans like it. "

The changeover

He may seem a natural fit in Urawa’s assaulting line but it’s taken a lot of function to make things look so easy.

“(Mihailo) Petrovic worked a lot beside me when I first obtained here, ” Rafael explains, acknowledging the Serbian coach who else left the golf club mid-season. “He had been always looking for buy fifa 18 coins movements that search for the ball. This brought me to make plays that are very quick within the front line. inch

Under current trainer Takafumi Hori, the team has continued to build on the strong start and have enjoyed a remarkable year that includes two trophies along with a new record - as the first Japanese team to actually win two AFC titles.

“Japanese soccer is very fast, ” says Rafael, “They cover a lot of distance and there's a positional awareness. I think it is very comfortable. From the pitch, after four years in Japan I feel at home, it’s a tranquil living, ” says Rafael before signing off with a salute for your camera.

Urawa face local team Al Jazira on nine December. The champion will face Western Champions Real Madrid in the semi-finals.

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