10 things you didn't know about Raphael Varane
It’s official – Raphael Varane is a Manchester United player!
You’ll already have read about how the 28-year-old is a four-time Champions League winner and the pivotal role he played with France in their 2018 World Cup success.
But here are 10 things you might not have known about Raphael…
HE’S VERY INTELLIGENT!
A studious figure, Varane passed his baccalaureate exam in social sciences and economics prior to his move from Lens to Real in 2011. In fact, it’s said that he initially spurned Zinedine Zidane’s call, as he was busy revising!
HE WAS NAMED IN A REAL ALL-STAR XI
In 2013, just two years after his transfer from Lens, Varane was voted into Real Madrid’s ‘greatest-ever foreign XI’, by readers of Spanish newspaper Marca. The Frenchman had played fewer than 50 games for Los Blancos at the time, but that didn’t stop him taking his place alongside all-time greats such as Roberto Carlos, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alfredo Di Stefano. Eight years on and his claim to that spot is now surely undisputed!
HE’S THE YOUNGEST TO CAPTAIN FRANCE
Varane made his debut for Les Bleus in 2013 and, just a year later and at the age of 21, he was wearing the armband for Didier Deschamps’s side during the second half of a game with Armenia – the youngest player ever to do so. The centre-back skippered his nation from the start in a friendly against Sweden the following month and scored the winning goal for good measure.
HE STOOD UP TO SIMEONE
Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is a man most wouldn’t seek a quarrel with, but Varane stood up to the Argentinian firebrand during extra-time in the 2014 Champions League final. A touchline disagreement led to Simeone confronting Varane on the pitch, but the centre-back held his own and Diego later apologised, saying: “I also made a mistake with my reaction. He's a young guy with a bright future.”
HE BEAT MALDINI’S RECORD
A key player in Real Madrid’s four Champions League triumphs between 2014 and 2018, Varane broke Paolo Maldini’s record as the youngest player to lift the famous old trophy on three occasions. Raphael had celebrated his 24th birthday just over a month prior to Real’s 4-1 win over Juventus in Cardiff in 2017. Maldini was 25 at the time of Milan’s 4-0 success over Barcelona in 1994, having already won with the Rossoneri in 1989 and 1990.
HE ACHIEVED A RARE FEAT IN 2018
Three years ago, Raphael experienced something of an annus mirabilis. In the space of 50 days, he lifted both the Champions League and the World Cup, becoming one of only four players to win football’s two biggest trophies in the same year (since the former was revamped in the 1990s). Funnily enough, the other three were all Real Madrid players too: Christian Karembeu (1998), Roberto Carlos (2002) and Sami Khedira (2014).
HE’S GOT HIS OWN DOCUMENTARY
Like former Real Madrid defensive partner Sergio Ramos, Varane is the subject of his own series. Raphaël Varane, Destin de champion looks at his life and glittering career, from growing up at Lens to winning the 2018 World Cup. You can watch it now via Amazon Prime.
HE’S A BIG-GAME PLAYER
Varane doesn’t score too many goals – only 17 in 10 years for Real Madrid and five at international level – but when he does find the net it tends to come in the clutch moments. He scored the opener in France’s 2-0 World Cup quarter-final triumph over Edinson Cavani’s Uruguay three years ago, and once netted in both legs of a Copa Del Rey semi-final with fierce rivals Barcelona. His final two strikes for Los Blancos helped Zidane’s side recover from a 1-0 deficit to beat Huesca in February, as they pursued Atletico at the top of La Liga.
HE’S GOT A CLEAN RECORD
While Ramos has developed a reputation as a defender who plays on the edge – he picked up an incredible 26 red cards during his time with Real – Varane is less well-known to referees. He has been dismissed just twice, against Espanyol for Los Blancos and England for France, both for professional fouls. Twenty-four bookings in 360 appearances in Spain is no meant feat for a centre-back, either!
HE’S RATED BY RASHFORD!
Varane has received plaudits from virtually everyone in the game, from Jose Mourinho to Didier Deschamps and Patrice Evra to Eden Hazard. But we’ll give our no.10 Marcus Rashford the final word on our new addition, from his interview earlier this year: “I think an individual is different to a unit,” Marcus mused when asked to name his toughest defender.
“Some teams defend really well as units and it’s teams like Burnley, for example, who do everything as a four. So if one pushes up, they all push up. If one drops, they all drop. It can be, at times, difficult to find space.
“But then there are some top individual defenders – van Dijk, Ramos. I thought, when we played against Real Madrid in a friendly, that Varane played and he was quite tough. So there are a few people.”