Raphael Guerreiro: 10 things on the Borussia Dortmund and Portugal left-back
Raphael Guerreiro's decision to represent Portugal at international level has been fully vindicated, but there's nothing to suggest the Borussia Dortmund left-sided specialist wouldn't have enjoyed equal success had he plumped for France.
bundesliga.com has the career skinny on one of the most versatile left-footers in the business...
1) Born in France, adopted by Portugal
After coming through France's renowned Clairefontaine academy, Guerreiro signed for Caen, where he pledged his international allegiance to his father's homeland, Portugal, ahead of his country of birth.
Givors-born Anthony Lopes and Adrien Silva, the latter having lived in France until the age of 12, also opted for an international career with The Navigators instead of Les Bleus.
2) A happy homecoming at Euro 2016
Although France has a sizable Portuguese population, it is fair to assume Messrs Guerreiro, Lopes and Silva were only a select few Paris natives inside the Stade de France celebrating at the end of a dramatic UEFA EURO 2016 final on 10 July 2016.
Guerreiro, for one, made a telling contribution as Portugal edged host nation France 1-0 in extra-time, just a stone's throw from his former Le-Blanc Mesnil abode in the northeastern suburbs of the French capital.
"It's not really sunk in yet," Guerreiro told Radio e Televisao de Portugal after getting his hands on the Henri Delaunay Trophy. "I've been playing for Lorient, and winning this title at the end of the season sounds incredible for me. And it's in France too, so it's even more special. Right now, it's the best moment of my career."
3) Guerreiro's crystal ball
Guerreiro fulfilled a childhood dream by winning Euro 2016 with Portugal, although the playbook wasn't quite what he envisaged.
"My absolute dream? It would be to play a Euro 2016 semi-final for Portugal against France at the Parc des Princes," Guerreiro said prior to the tournament. "I'd play left-back, my favourite position, and Ronaldo would score."
Portugal actually beat Wales in the last four, before Eder fired in the winner against hosts France in the final. Guerreiro started both games at left-back, while Ronaldo went off injured 25 minutes into the final.
4) Guerreiro 1-0 Messi
Guerreiro had been playing for the Portugal U21s when he received his maiden senior call-up for a EURO 2016 qualifier against Armenia towards the end of 2014.
Having made a seamless transition from the French second division with Caen to the top tier with Lorient, he was now following suit on the international stage, scoring the winning goal in a friendly against an Argentina side boasting none other than Lionel Messi, just four days after making his debut.
5) Destination Dortmund
His stock rising, Guerreiro enjoyed one last hurrah with the U21s in summer 2015, playing an integral role in Portugal's run to the final of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in the Czech Republic.
Although Portugal were beaten 4-3 on penalties by Sweden at the Eden Stadium in Prague, Guerreiro came up smelling of roses, earning a place in the Team of the Tournament on the back of a string of assured displays up and down the left flank.
In June 2016, he signed a four-year deal with Dortmund.
Watch: Raphael Guerreiro - a humble Dortmund hero
6) I'm not worth it!
The son of a factory worker and housewife, Guerreiro has his feet firmly on the ground and tends to avoid the celebrity trappings of your typical modern-day footballer. Indeed, he once admitted that he was struggling to get his head around his seven-figure market value.
"When I went from Caen to Lorient, it was hard to comprehend that I was worth €3m. It's a lot of money for one guy, especially coming out of Ligue 2," he said. "My parents were even more surprised than me. But I tried to live up to my fee and prove my worth. At the time I thought: 'What the hell is going on?' It can make you pretentious, but it gives you self-confidence, too."
Dortmund reportedly paid Lorient somewhere in the region of €12m for his services - a veritable bargain in the modern market.
7) Deep impact at home and abroad
Guerreiro made his Bundesliga debut as a substitute against Mainz on Matchday 1 of the 2016/17 campaign. He scored his first goal and registered a pair of assists in a 5-1 demolition of Wolfsburg on Matchday 4, and followed up that match-winning display with another strike against Freiburg a week later.
Despite experiencing various injury setbacks, the Portugal all-rounder has made over 200 appearances for the club, producing 37 goals and 39 assists in all competitions. He also won the DFB Cup in 2016/17 and 2020/21, as well as the 2019 Supercup.
8) A Jack of all trades
It was during one such lay-off that video footage of Guerreiro scoring an outrageous spinning backheel volley at training went viral, as he reminded the footballing planet just what it had been missing in his absence.
That video was a testament to Guerreiro's remarkable technical ability, but it is his tactical flexibility that may in fact be his biggest strength. Having been employed chiefly as a left-back by former club Lorient, he was used in a variety of ways by Thomas Tuchel after switching to Dortmund: left winger, left-back, central midfielder and even defensive midfielder.
"Rapha is far too good to be fixed in one position," the former BVB boss insisted.
9) Wind him up, watch him go
Guerreiro has also split his time between left-back, midfield and a wide attacking role under Tuchel's successors.
Regardless of where he lines up however, he has always had an eye for goal, while his all-action style has earned him the nickname of 'The Battery'.
"I got it when I was young because I had a lot of energy on the pitch," he explained.
Watch: Guerreiro compared to Bundesliga left-back Angelino
10) Ronaldo and Pauleta fanboy
Free-kicks have been a key weapon in Guerreiro's armoury down the years. After Ronaldo drove a set-piece at the wall in the group match with competition debutants Iceland at Euro 2016, Lorient posted a Twitter video of Guerreiro picking out the corner of the net from a similar position in a league match against Guingamp - as if to say, our boy should have taken it!
Not that Guerreiro, who had been hovering over the ball, was ever going to take CR7 to task over the incident. He's always been a fan, but it was former Portugal striker Pauleta who made the biggest impression on him as a youngster.
"There are still pictures of Pauleta and Ronaldo on the walls at my parents' house," he told L'Equipe. "I loved the intelligence of Pauleta, the way he played the game in his head and not only with his feet."
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