Chennaiyin FC can today announce they have mutually parted ways with talismanic midfielder, fan favourite and two-time Indian Super League champion with the club, Raphael Augusto. Fondly called ‘Rapha’ by his throngs of die-hard supporters, he leaves a Chennaiyin legend, having played in four of the five seasons in the club’s history.
Rapha made a telling 68 appearances in all competitions over that period, scoring seven goals. With six goals and six assists in the ISL, his most important contribution was the goal he scored in the 2017-18 final against Bengaluru FC in Bengaluru. Rapha finished off a lethal break for CFC in the second half with a curling effort from outside the box, beyond the reach of a flailing Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the BFC goal. It ultimately proved to be the winner, as Chennaiyin went on to lift their second ISL trophy with a 3-2 triumph.
For Rapha, the goal and victory in the 2017-18 final carried tremendous importance in an emotional and redemptive sense as well. He played a pivotal role in CFC’s surge to the semifinals in the 2015 ISL season but picked up an unfortunate injury in the penultimate league game. He subsequently went on to miss the semis and the final, with Chennaiyin winning the latter in dramatic fashion against FC Goa. And so it was only fitting for Rapha in a personal sense, to score the winner in the 2017-18 finale.
He did not hit his usual sparkling heights in the following ISL season but played an integral role in the club’s 2018-19 Super Cup campaign, even scoring in the final as CFC lost by a slender 2-1 margin to FC Goa.
“Raphael Augusto is a name synonymous with Chennaiyin and the club’s rich history. He will forever be remembered as someone who gave more than 200% every time he took to the pitch, and the club’s most ardent supporter off the pitch. We hope he continues to remain one, even now. We are all emotional at his departure from the club, and we would like to take this moment to thank him for all the countless memories. His flair, trickery, technical brilliance and not to mention his ever-smiling demeanour will forever be ingrained in our club’s folklore. We would like to wish him and his lovely family, the very best for the future,” shared the Chennaiyin FC co-owners in a joint statement.
Along with his many priceless contributions, the Brazilian will be dearly missed by the Chennaiyin faithful for his attractive style of play and flair. His technical ability was almost unparalleled in the ISL, and many a times one would find fans exclaiming that Rapha was gliding across the pitch with the ball at his feet.
The 28-year-old has gone on to create an indelible bond with the fans, taking this opportunity to thank them for their unconditional support for him during his fruitful tenure at the club. “I just want to thank all the fans and supporters, because they always did their best to help and support me! I always gave my best on the field because of you guys, the fans. You all deserve the best and I will always be thankful for what you guys did for me. All my love and thanks to the fans,” an emotional Rapha said through a message.
Rapha’s stylish yet gritty approach in midfield was unique, to say the least. His driving runs and command over the ball broke down the toughest of oppositions, while he found teammates around him with consummate ease. The players, coaching staff and club management will forever be indebted to Rapha for his services to the club and its faithful; wishing him the very best in all his future endeavours.