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9 Interesting Facts About Raphael Varane

Updated: Apr 3

Full Name: Raphaël Xavier Varane

Date of Birth: 25 April 1993 (age 30)

Place of Birth: Lille, Nord, France

Height: 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)

Position: Centre-Back

Current Team: Manchester United

Raphael Varane is one of the greatest central defenders the modern game has ever witnessed. The Lille-born Frenchman started playing football at 11 for his local side AS Hellemmes before joining Lens two years later.

Rising through the ranks of the French game whilst showing great promise, Varane was soon invited to train with Lens’ senior squad, ready for the beginning of the 2010-11 season -

eventually signing his first professional contract at age 17.

Yet after just a single campaign, the French international moved to Real Madrid in the summer of 2011 for a fee of €11 million and went on to play a total of 236 times for the

Spanish side. He made his full international debut for France in 2013 and won 93 caps.

After ten seasons at the Bernabeu, Varane switched to the Premier League and joined Manchester United in 2021. There's much to discover about the Frenchman's life and career. You’ll get to know the answers to questions like how many UCL medals has Varane won? Who did the Frenchman idolise? how many goals has Varane scored? and more.

Here are 9 interesting facts about Raphael Varane.

1. He Once Played Rugby

Varane's first venture into the world of sport wasn’t football as you might imagine - it was actually Rugby. Because he was tall and athletic, Varane may have found some success yet

his father claims he didn't ‘like’ it. Varane went on to pursue football instead with his father saying he never had to persuade his boy to train, such was his love for the game.

2. Bayern Munich Rejected Him

In 2011, Bayern Munich had the opportunity to sign Raphael Varane as a teenager for just €5 million. Former French and Bayern defender Willy Sagnol was a scout at the German club in 2011 and watched Varane’s performances for Lens but concluded the suggested transfer fee was far too high. Bayern decided against any deal with the Frenchman and he ended up at Real Madrid instead for a fee closer to €10 million.

3. He Idolised Rio Ferdinand and Dreamed Of United

As a young boy, Raphael Varane idolised former Manchester United club legend Rio Ferdinand and dreamed of one day playing for the club.

Varane was a boyhood fan of United, says Samuel Luckhurst of The Telegraph who suggests that he would have earned more by extending his stay at the Bernabeu rather than moving to Manchester. Despite that fact, the Frenchman decided to push for a move to Old Trafford in search of a “new challenge.”

4. He Is Very Intelligent

Before his move from Lens to Real Madrid in 2011, Varane achieved a baccalaureate in social sciences and economics. So committed was the Frenchman to his education, that when Zinedine Zidane called him to sway his decision to join Los Blancos, Varane didn't answer and continued to study instead. “At eighteen, you don’t necessarily have the experience to handle this kind of situation,” he told Foot Mercato. “Among all the calls, there was that of Zizou who wanted to talk to me about the interests of Real.” Varane failed to recognise Zidane’s voice and insisted he call him back later!

5. He Was Named One Of Real's Best Foreigners

In 2013, having completed only two seasons in Spain, Varane was voted into Real Madrid’s ‘greatest-ever foreign XI’ by readers of the respected Spanish newspaper Marca. The Frenchman’s impact had been immense. At the time of voting, the defender had recorded fewer than 50 games for the club, yet his inclusion placed him alongside such Madrid greats as Argentine forward Alfredo Di Stefano, Brazilian Roberto Carlos and Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo.

6. He Is A Very Fair Player

Varane has a very impressive disciplinary record which is a reflection of his composure, consideration and skill as a world-class defender. Throughout his career to date (as of August 2023) the Frenchman has received 30 yellow cards and just two red cards. In 2016, he was shown his first-ever red card against Athletic Bilbao after amassing two yellow cards. His second dismissal came a full three seasons later in 2019 following a straight red card against Espanyol for bringing down an attacker running towards goal and Varane was the last man.

7. He Became France's Youngest Captain

Varane made his debut for the French senior side in 2013. Only a year later and aged just 21, he was handed the captaincy by manager Didier Deschamps during the second half of their game against Armenia. He became the youngest player to ever wear the nation's armband. The following month, Varane started as Captain for a friendly match vs Sweden, scoring the winning goal in a 1-0 victory for Les Blues.

8. His Trophy Cabinet Is Plentiful!

Varane has amassed a huge total of 21 trophies during his illustrious career so far. For Real Madrid, he won four Champions League titles, four FIFA Club World Cups, three La

Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and three UEFA Supercups.

On the international stage, he has two major honours to his name including the 2021 Nations League and 2018 World Cup. Most recently in 2023, Varane helped Manchester United claim the English League Cup.

9. He Beat The Great Paolo Maldini's Record

When Real Madrid won the 2017 Champions League, the second of their three consecutive European Cup successes, Varane lifted the trophy for a third time.

At age 24, the Frenchman broke Paolo Maldini’s record as the youngest player to win the title on three occasions. Maldini was 25 when Milan defeated Barcelona 4-0 in the 1994 final, adding a third victory to his other two European titles from 1989 and 1990.

Bonus - He is an Advocate for Player Welfare

Another major fact about Raphael Varane is his advocacy for greater awareness and protection regarding the risks of heading in football. Varane shared his personal experiences with concussion and also actively called for measures to educate players, especially young ones, about the potential long-term effects of heading the ball.

In an interview with L'Equipe on the 2nd of April 2024, he said: "Even if it doesn't cause any immediate trauma, we know that in the long term, repeated shocks can have harmful effects." This demonstrates his commitment to player welfare and highlights his influence as a professional footballer in addressing important issues within the sport.

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