With stellar performances and his magical left leg Rafael Crivellaro took the league by storm in his debut season. The Brazilian midfield maestro played a pivotal role in propelling Chennaiyin FC into the finals. The 31 year old worked his sorcery through the middle of the park with his breathtaking through balls and astounding goals.
After a rocky start under John Gregory Chennaiyin gained momentum under the tutelage of Owen Coyle. Rafael took a liking to the Scots style of play which further enhanced his capabilities. IFTWC recently Had a conversation with Chennaiyin FC’s star midfielder about his first season experiences and other various aspects of the game.
When asked about the difference in playing under John Gregory and Owen Coyle, He was all praises for the latter. “Owen brought back our confidence, as a team we started playing positive football. after we started winning everything just began to fall in place.”
Rafael earned the nickname “The Professor” among the Chennaiyin faithful because of his ability to read and control the game. the Brazilian was thankful for all the love he received from the Marina Machans.
“I really don’t know why the fans started calling me the professor. they call me different names on Instagram like Mr Architect, Master Rafa etc. it feels very nice.”
Before signing for Chennaiyin FC Rafael was playing for Portuguese first division side CD Feirense. when asked the reason behind the surprising switch to the Indian League he said,
“New culture and new experience the ISL offered was very exciting that made me take up the challenge. i knew about the ISL even before i came as my agents were in touch with me for almost an year! I am very happy that i took up this challenge.”
Chennaiyin FC started off with 4 game goal drought which was chaotic and dropped the morale of the entire squad. Chennaiyin’s fairy tale fightback came in the second half of the season were their results changed drastically. Rafael says it was all about confidence.
“I don’t know what went wrong in the beginning. all i can say is that we didn’t start well. Owen made us play positive football then the results started to come our way. the confidence that infused within the team after those first few wins was the game changer. i am extremely happy with the strong finish we had.”
Against Northeast United Rafael Scored a magnificent Long Ranger which was arguably the best goal in season 6 of the Indian super league. it was a stunning left footed strike from almost half way which flew past the opposition custodian into the back of the net. Rafael says this was not the only time he tried something ambitious like that in his career.
“It was an amazing goal and feeling. i always like to take such chances and had also tried something similar while playing against Porto with Spanish legend Iker Casillas in goal but unfortunately he saved it. i am happy that i could do it in India.”
“Anirudh Thapa and Chhangte are two brilliant youngsters i can think of right now. i loved sharing the dressing room and playing with them. they both have bright future.” He replied when asked about the Indian Youngsters who impressed him.
The quality that teams exhibited throughout season 6 was mind blowing. Chennaiyin FC didn’t have an easy road to the finals they had to clear lot of hurdles to get there. When asked about the toughest team he faced in India Rafael didn’t hesitate to mention former champions Bengaluru FC.
“The match against Bengaluru was the most difficult one for me. they had a wonderful team which was very disciplined, strong tactically and defensively.”
The Midfield wizard plied his trade in Portugal, Poland and UAE Before reaching Indian shores. Even though he was keen on new adventures he reveals that he faced cultural shock initially and found it difficult to Adapt to the new set up in the early stages of the season. Rafael was pleased with the reception he received from the fans and the Club.
“At the beginning it was a big shock. it is always difficult to go to a new club or country. Comparatively India was the most difficult for me to adapt. the first month especially is very hard when you join a new club. but when you start to know everything, slowly it becomes normal. Indian people are so receptive and loving, they welcomed me very well and took great care. playing in India was a great experience.