Arsenal Women

Rafaelle on persuading Brazil teammates to join Arsenal & Leah Williamson partnership

Ali Rampling
Rafaelle spoke to 90min about her first two months at Arsenal
Rafaelle spoke to 90min about her first two months at Arsenal / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Exclusive - Rafaelle made history in January 2022 by becoming the first Brazilian player to sign for Arsenal Women.

The centre-back is only the third Brazilian international to grace the WSL overall, following in the footsteps of former Chelsea midfielder Ester, and Manchester United's Ivana Ferreira Fuso

Rafaelle, capped 66 times at senior level for he country, admitted she has already started attempting to persuade her Brazilian compatriots to join her in north London.

"That means a lot to me (being Arsenal Women's first Brazilian player)", Rafaelle told 90min. "I hope I can bring more Brazilians to come here; it’s such a nice league and I think playing here we can help the national team because the level is so high and we can improve the level in the national team too.

"I hope this is going to be a change for the Brazilians, how they’re going to look to this league and how they are looking to come here. So I’m really happy to be the first one and I’m hoping it will be the first of many.

"I have been trying with my friends in the national team, asking them: ‘let’s go, let’s go to England, let’s go to Arsenal, it’s going to be nice!’ I have a good experience here so I hope they can come and join me so I can speak Portuguese with them."

Although the 30-year-old is the first Brazilian to take to the field for the women's side, Arsenal boast a proud history of Brazilian players at the club, from Gilberto Silva and Edu to current stars Gabriel and Gabriel Martinelli.

Rafaelle joined Arsenal following a five-year spell in China with Changchun Zhuoyue, and admitted it was a combination of the club's proud Brazilian past, the strength of the WSL and the UK football culture that convinced her to sign for the Gunners.

"The club, the history here, all the Brazilian players that have played here," she explained. "I think league here is very strong, I want to be in a good league, I want to be playing the best and playing with such good players.

"I enjoy the club and the atmosphere around it, like the fans. After being in China it didn’t have too much attention because the sport isn’t the main sport for the Chinese people. Here it’s like the main thing. I feel like we have all the support from the fans and I’ve enjoyed it so much."

During her short time in north London, Rafaelle has quickly formed a mean defensive partnership with Leah Williamson. Arsenal are unbeaten in the WSL when the two centre backs have started together, keeping consecutive clean sheets against Chelsea and Reading.

"She’s a great player, I love to play with her," Rafaelle said. "I have so much confidence when I’m playing with her because she’s unbelievable. We always talk to each other, support one another, and I think we can do a good job playing together."

The North London Derby at Emirates Stadium, between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur takes place on Saturday 26th March, at 2.15pm. To purchase tickets, click here.