Rafaelle 'really thankful' for the Arsenal supporters as she prepares herself for new challenge
BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Rafaelle Souza of Arsenal claps the fans after the FA Women's Super League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Meadow Park on May 27, 2023 in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Rafaelle Souza bid an emotional farewell as she played her final game for the North London side, during the 2-0 loss to Aston Villa on the last day of the WSL season.

After the final whistle went at Meadow Park, she spent a lot of time speaking to supporters and showing her appreciation to the home crowd, who had sung her name regularly throughout the 90 minutes.

There is no doubting that she will be a big miss in the Arsenal squad next season, especially with the leadership she has shown during the injury crisis that has hit the club over the course of the campaign.

But what is it that the excellent Brazilian defender will miss the most from Arsenal?

She explained: "I am going to miss the fans and playing around such amazing players.

"That is going to be the thing that I’m going to take from this club."

The 31-year-old joined the club in January 2022 and played 35 times for Jonas Eidevall's side.

The impact that the defender has made since arriving in North London, was clearly felt around the ground after the final whistle as there was a feeling of sadness during her lap of appreciation.

This season

Rafaelle has been an integral part in the Arsenal back-line this season and she has formed an excellent partnership with Leah Williamson at the heart of the defence.

Even when injuries struck and Jonas Eidevall had to alter the formation, she was equally as comfortable playing in a back three.

She believes that the season will have to go down as a successful one, due to the impressive way the squad has coped with the mounting injury crisis.

"I think that we have done a good season and we qualified to the Champions League, we got to the semi-finals.

"With all the support, I’m really thankful and it has been amazing over the last 18 months and I have been really proud to be here." 

The centre-back was part of the team that beat Chelsea 3-1 back in March to lift the Continental Cup. That day will live long in the memory for Rafaelle, who admitted that she is delighted with that success.

She added: "It felt really nice. One of my goals here was to win titles and we won the Conti Cup. Even though I’m leaving, I know my name is going to be on the wall with that trophy and I’m really proud of it."

Despite the fact that she spends most of her time on the pitch, stopping the opposing team from scoring, Brazil's captain has shown during her relatively short stint, that she also has an excellent knack for scoring a goal herself.

She has netted four times for the club but one goal in particular stands out alone.

"I think the goal against Tottenham at the Emirates was amazing with all the fans there. It is such a big stadium and that was unbelievable. I will never forget it."

What she has learnt

Even though, she has a wealth of experience during her career, that has seen her play all over the globe. That has not stopped her from learning some important lessons that she will take forward with her.

The 2022 Copa America champion wants to take the way that she has learnt to handle pressure, into her next adventure.

"[I have learnt] how to deal with all this pressure. It has been a good thing, like it has pushed me forward and I think I am going to take it to the next club that I go too."

And a final word from Rafaelle about her feelings towards Arsenal.

"I feel like this club has inspired me so much and I can feel the love from the fans, the staff and the whole team. I’m just thankful to be here and I am really proud of this team."