Birth Date:10 June 1999
Birth Place:Almada Setúbal
At AC Milan since:2019
Rafael Alexandre da Conceição Leão was born in Almada to Angolan parents on 10 June 1999. Rafa grew up in footballing terms at Sporting Lisbon and was soon making his debut both domestically and internationally. In October 2017, he was given his first opportunity in the Taça de Portugal and got off the mark straight away; he then went on to make his first-team senior debut in the Primeira Liga and in the Europa League in February 2018.
He was sold to LOSC Lille in the summer of 2018, and in his one season there made 26 appearances and eight goals. AC Milan were alerted to the Portuguese talent after his successful season in Ligue 1 and performances at the Under-20 World Cup, and, in his first two seasons at San Siro, he gradually got minutes as a left-sided attacking forward. On 20 December 2020, he entered the history books for scoring the fastest ever goal in the top 5 European leagues (6.76 seconds against Sassuolo).
But it was in the 2021/22 season that he reached new heights. He enjoyed an extraordinary campaign, scoring more goals than in the two previous ones put together. He was also named as the 2021/22 Serie MVP following the Rossoneri’s 19th Scudetto triumph. In 2022/23 Rafa rewrote his personal records, netting 16 times (15 goals in the league and one in the Champions League) and registering twelve assists (eight in Italy, four in Europe) across 48 matches. As of June 2023, he has played 163 times and grabbed 43 goals.
His performances for AC Milan were recognized by Portugal, too, as he achieved his first senior cap in a friendly against Qatar in 9 October 2021. Previously, he had reached the European Under-21 Championship final with the Seleção das Quinas. He was also involved in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where - in the group stage against Ghana and the round of 16 against Switzerland - he bagged his first two goals for Portugal.