Rafael Lopez Gomez is a Spanish footballer born on the 9th of April, 1985 in Penafiel, Valladolid, Spain. Popularly known as Rafa, he plays mainly as a central defender. He presently plays for the Indian Super League team FC Pune City.
Rafa started his career in the youth systems of Spain. He joined the youth system of Real Valladolid. He made his professional debut on the 8th of February, 2004 against fellow La Liga team Espanyol at the age of 19. That match ended in a 0-2 away defeat for Real Valladolid.
Being a young player in one of the most competitive leagues in the world he managed to make only six appearances in the main squad of the club in his first two professional seasons combined.
Rise to Glory
Rafa spent his first three seasons playing for his childhood club Valladolid. During this time he played only six games and hence left for a year long loan to Eibar that played in the Segunda Division in 2005.
It was after his return to Valladolid that he started gaining the limelight. He made 21 appearances and helped his team regain their La Liga position by getting promoted in 2007, after almost four years.
In early 2008, he joined Getafe where he switched his role to some degree by starting to play as left back.
In 2013, Rafa went through a difficult phase, as indicated by his performances on the pitch. He was suspended thrice in a calendar year, because of picking up red cards. This had a devastating effect on his form, in general.
He has also repeatedly suffered injuries in his hamstring, because of which he is usually benched for a couple of weeks in a stretch. He has not yet been called by the National side of Spain to play for his country, mainly due to the presence of extreme competition for the centre back position.
Rafa spent seven seasons in Getafe between 2008 and 2015. He was promoted to being a first choice defendar after his very first season. Getafe had a stellar season, as they finished 6th in the La Liga and as a result of that qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the second time in history.
He then spent two seasons playing for the newly promoted German Bundesliga club SC Paderborn 07 before returning to his childhood club Valladolid for one final season. On 23 August 2017, 32-year-old Rafa signed for Indian Super League team FC Pune City.