Rafinha finally makes his debut for Brazil / RAFAEL RIBEIRO-CBF

There were just ten minutes to go in the game between Brazil and Costa Rica when coach Dunga decided to make his last two substitutions in the friendly game, bringing on Neymar and Rafinha. The striker made his first appearance for his country since the recent Copa América and the midfielder made his first ever appearance for the country of his birth. “It is the happiest day of my life,” said Rafinha. “I imagined this day on innumerable occasions but the reality was much better,” he said talking to the Brazilian Football Federation’s website.

When I was a kid I used to pretend I was playing for Brazil

Rafinha, like any other Brazilian kid interested in football, grew up imitating his heroes in the street, in his case the side who won the World Cup in 2002. In that side were figures such former Barça players Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Edmilson, now assistant coach to Dunga. “When I was a kid I played with my brother Thiago in Vivendas de Barra (a neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro) and I liked to imagine I was one of the players from that team. Thanks to them I have always wanted to wear this shirt,” he revealed.