'Better than Cristiano Ronaldo' - Former Sporting Lisbon coach on Lille OSC star
What's the news?
The former Sporting youth coach, Tiago Fernandes, reveals that Lille's Rafael Leao was 'better than Cristiano Ronaldo' when he was a youth academy player.
In case you didn't know...
Regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all-time, Cristiano Ronaldo was a part of Sporting Lisbon's youth academy and made his professional in 2002. He currently holds the record for winning the joint-most number of Ballon d'Ors (five) and is also the highest scoring player(121 goals) in the Champions League history.
On the other hand, Rafael Leao also came through the ranks of Sporting Lisbon youth setup and made his professional debut in 2018. He joined the Ligue 1 club Lille last summer and is in a sensational form since his move. He has scored six goals in 13 league games thus far this season and has been dubbed as the next 'Kylian Mbappe'.
The heart of the matter
According to the former Sporting Lisbon's youth coach, Tiago Fernandes, Rafael Leao was the better player than Cristiano Ronaldo during his youth academy years.
He said, "I pushed [then-Sporting coach] Jorge Jesus to take him in the first team and I said to him: 'Yes, Gelson Martins has talent but Rafael is the best player in the history of the Sporting Academy'. At youth level, he was better than Cristiano Ronaldo,"
He further elaborated, "When he decides to be decisive, he is. He just has to 'click' and he does it. There are players that if they force it, it doesn't work all the time. With him, you say to yourself, what potential, what power!
"The big problem he had was complacency. I tried to move him because I was one of the oldest."
Rafael Leao's Lille will play Guingamp in the league next, whereas, Juventus will make a trip to play Sassuolo later today.