First Class Defender

Full Name: Raphael Xavier Varane

Birthdate: April 25, 1993

Place of Birth: France

Football Club (Currently): Real Madrid

Position(s): Defender

Playing Years: 2010 to present

Formative Years and Football Career:

Even though he is currently regarded as one of the best defenders in the world of football, Raphael Varane simply started his football career playing for local club AS Hellemmes at the age of seven. After spending two years with the club, he transferred to French club RC Lens in 2002 despite interest from hometown club Lille. Varane spent two years at Centre de Preformation de Football in Lievin, a training centre exclusive for players brought up in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, working out during the weekdays and playing with Lens on weekends. When he returned full time in Lens, he was quickly promoted to the club’s youth ranks.

At the beginning of the 2008-09 season, he was among those who played on the club’s under-16 team that won the Championnat National des 16 ans.

The next season, he advanced to Lens’ under-19 team even though he was two years younger than some of his teammates.  He signed his first professional contract with the club during the 2010-11 season, immediately moving forward to the club’s reserve team for the Championnat de France amateur. In the latter part of October during the 2010-11 campaign, the French forward was called up to the senior team to get ready for the club’s match against Montpellier in November. He was included in the team’s starting roster due to centre-back Alaeddine Yahia’s injury, playing the entire game in a 2-0 win which was the club’s third clean sheet of the term. He remained in the starting team despite the firing of Walleme.

Real Madrid

In June 2011, Raphael Varane signed a six-year contract with Liga giants Real Madrid. He made his debut with the club during the opening pre-season match against American club Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2011 World Football Challenge, playing as a substitute in Real Madrid’s cruise to a 4-1 victory. He made his first starter during a 3-0 victory against Mexican club Guadalajara. He ended his first pre-season campaign featuring in seven of Real Madrid’s eight pre-season fixtures. Varane made his competitive debut for the club in September during a league fixture against Racing de Santander, starting the match at centre-back with Ricardo Carvalho as the game ended in a 0-0 draw.

The French forward scored his first goal for the Spanish outfit after a flying back-heel shot following a corner from Mesut Ozil. The La Liga giant came out victorious in a 6-2 win. Raphael Varane’s goal made him the youngest international player at 18 years old to net a goal in a competitive fixture Real Madrid. Days after scoring his first goal, he made his UEFA Champions League debut in a 3-0 group stage victory against Dutch club Ajax. He ended his first season with Real Madrid by securing the first place in its group stage competition.

Varane started the next campaign making his season debut during the club’s match opener in the UEFA Champions League group stage against English Club Manchester City. In January 2013, he made his El Clasico debut in a match against Barcelona during the 2012-13 Copa del Rey, stopping a group of daring shots from Barcelona which included a shot from Xavi which Varane cleared from the goal line. He topped his stunning performance with a headed goal in the match, ending in a 1-1 draw. He continued his outstanding form throughout the campaign, ending the season being named as a member of the Best Foreign Eleven in Real Madrid’s history.

He consistently performed in outstanding perform throughout the next few seasons with Real Madrid. During the 2014 UEFA Champions League Final, he played all 120 minutes of the club’s 4-1 victory against Atletico Madrid. He further made 23 appearances for Real Madrid despite sustaining multiple injuries, even assisting the club to its victory during the 2016-17 La Liga. In the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League, he played in 11 matches, when Real Madrid bagged their third successive and 13th overall Champions League title. As of now, due to his noteworthy performance during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Raphael Varane is among the list of players nominated for the 2018 Ballon d’Or.

By @EliaasMJ
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