Rafael: "I want to stay here for the fans"
Rafael, how are you feeling after your long injury spell?
I feel good now. Being away for so long was very difficult to manage because it lasted almost three months. I think it's the longest injury I've had in my career. It was hard to be a mere spectator at the games. I was very happy to enter the game against Toulouse and make my return before the international break. It was a magical moment! The fans also supported me by chanting my name when I came on. This was especially touching for me.
You've been at OL for the past four seasons. How would you describe your relationship with the fans?
I feel like I have a good relationship with the fans here. That's why I want to stay. It's important for me to know that people like me. I still have more desire to play. I love my life in Lyon. I think the fans also want me to stay. I now want to win matches for them.
How would you rate the team's performances during your absence?
The team has had some ups and downs. I think we are currently going through a good spell. We must now give everything to finish second. We must gain confidence to face the final stretch of the season the right way.
What makes this club so decisive in the final months of the season?
It's true that we're used to finishing our seasons on a strong note. It was the same when I joined Manchester United. Experienced players find it easier to motivate themselves at the end of the season. I hope we will be able to put the necessary ingredients to do it again this season.
Do you believe OL deserve to currently sit in third place in Ligue 1 Conforama?
We have to go for second place. Lille are a very good team, a good football playing team. All the upcoming matches are very important. Lille have a difficult schedule, because they'll play against PSG and have several games on the road. We must first think of ourselves and win our matches.
Would it be a failure for OL not to finish in second place?
I don't think it would be a failure, but rather a disappointment. We really have to win our next matches to finish in second place. We have to do it for us, the fans and the club.
What are your highlights from the Champions League games against Barcelona?
It was very hard because I was sitting in the stands in the first leg. Then I was on the bench in the second leg, but I didn't play. I still think we played well. It 's always a good experience to face Barça. All players play football for these types of matches. We had the chance to qualify. We managed to put them in doubt by scoring at the Camp Nou.
Finally, what does the future hold for you?
There are still ongoing discussions with the club. We'll see what the final decision is. In any case, I want to stay in Lyon. We'll see what happens at the end of the season. I still want to play football for another five or six years. That said, the end of my career is approaching and I'm trying to enjoy it even more."