Just two months before Portugal kick off their FIFA World Cup 2022 campaign in Qatar, Rafa Silva today announced his retirement from the national team.

The speedy front man has been in superb form this season, scoring 6 goals and providing 4 assists in 13 matches, making a huge contribution to Benfica’s sensational 100% winning start to the new campaign.

He was included in the Portugal squad announced by Fernando Santos last week for the Nations League matches and would almost certainly have been in the World Cup squad. 

“Today I informed the Seleção coach Fernando Santos and the Portuguese Football Federation that I would no longer be available to represent the national team,” began Rafa’s brief message that he sent to the Portuguese news agency Lusa.

“I believe it is an honest and correct decision at this point in my career. I ask that the reasons I have made this decision, which are personal, be respected by everyone.

“I represented the national teams 40 times, helped conquer Euro 2016 and the Nations League and I will always be in the front row supporting the team. I’m certain the Seleção will continue to bring joy to the Portuguese people, starting with the Nations League and World Cup 2022.” 

At 29 years of age Rafa Silva accumulated 25 caps for the senior team after making his debut in 2014 in a friendly against Cameroon under previous Portugal coach Paulo Bento.

Rafa was in Portugal’s World Cup 2014, Euro 2016 and Euro 2020 squads, but he only spent 52 minutes on the pitch across the three tournaments.

Euro 2020 super sub versus Hungary

His most memorable contribution was in the Euro 2020 opener against Hungary. Rafa came on as a 71st-minute substitute with the match still goalless and was at the heart of three late goals as the Seleção ran out 3-0 winners. Rafa won a penalty and provided assists for Rafael Guerreiro and Cristiano Ronaldo.

In a perfect reflection of Rafa’s Seleção career, he was unable to build on that promising display to nail down a place in the team, playing little over 30 minutes in Portugal’s three subsequent matches in the tournament.

A reserved personality who rarely gives interviews, Rafa had to contend with rumours that the FPF were unhappy with his “lack of effort” and “complicated personality” towards the end of Portugal’s World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign as per Portuguese sports daily Record.

Fernando Santos strenuously shot down the report as “totally false” adding that “Rafa has been my player since 2015, he was a European champion, he won the Nations League, he’s a player I can always absolutely count on.”

Whether or not Rafa Silva would have seen many minutes in Qatar, Santos will be disappointed to have lost the services of a player with some unique attributes in the squad, namely his ability to dribble at a fearsome pace, especially at a time when he is playing arguably the best football of his career.   

By Tom Kundert

Comments (11)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Seems like a decision of someone who is fed up with how the team is being run. Good for him.

Nunogomes21
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Yeah, it is interesting to say the least.

Maybe he is finally feeling like he is a consistent winner, as Benfica is rolling, and doesn't want to throw that off.

Or it could be the first sign of a Bento type loss of talent who are fed up with...

Yeah, it is interesting to say the least.

Maybe he is finally feeling like he is a consistent winner, as Benfica is rolling, and doesn't want to throw that off.

Or it could be the first sign of a Bento type loss of talent who are fed up with no plan to be ultimately successful. Or both.

The irony is that Santos helped bring back Carvalho, Mendes and Quaresma, now he may be driving away talent.

Santos should call up Goncalo Ramos in his place. 8 goals, and 4 assists in 10 games is an excellent start. Is there any other Portuguese player in a major league with a better goal return?

We need an out and out center forward, and even though I am not sold on him(look at Andre Silva), we have very few viable options in that department.

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Paulo
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Beto is playing well at Udinese, they are top of Serie A.

Val
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Val,

I haven't followed the Serie A at all this season, except for Leao.

Beto is definitely worth a look, and at 24 he is about to his prime.

Paulo
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"Maybe he is finally feeling like he is a consistent winner, as Benfica is rolling, and doesn't want to throw that off."

Benfica are winning games but the season just started so they're not "winners" of anything just yet, though things are...

"Maybe he is finally feeling like he is a consistent winner, as Benfica is rolling, and doesn't want to throw that off."

Benfica are winning games but the season just started so they're not "winners" of anything just yet, though things are looking good for them at this point.

Also, Rafa has been part of the Seleccao during Benfica's 4 consecutive league titles, so I don't know that this line of reasoning applies here.

There have been rumours that he didn't get along with Santos personally and was a bit of a black sheep in the locker room (both at the Seleccao and even in his Braga days), but I don't know if I believe that either. Seems like media fiction.

In the case of Santos, we can sit here and call him a horrible tactician all day, which he is, but one thing he always had, is the trust and belief in the players. I don't think Rafa de-selecting himself can be put on Santos. That's one area I think he's probably excellent in. Maybe Rafa just sees himself as a starter and doesn't want to come off the bench anymore?

Who knows? Only Rafa does at this point. But with Leao and Neto, I think we will be fine without him anyways.

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Chris
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Chris,

Appreciate your thoughts, but to clarify, "winners" can be defined as people who have won. So for sure Rafa can feel like a winner this season, since the have won all their games this season so far. Does that mean the are the "winners" of...

Chris,

Appreciate your thoughts, but to clarify, "winners" can be defined as people who have won. So for sure Rafa can feel like a winner this season, since the have won all their games this season so far. Does that mean the are the "winners" of a competition, of course not, since none of the competitions are not any where near being able to be decided.

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Paulo
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"but one thing he always had, is the trust and belief in the players." ?

Did you mean, "but one thing he always had, is the trust and belief of the players."

I not so sure he has has the trust and belief of the players now. In 2016 for sure,...

"but one thing he always had, is the trust and belief in the players." ?

Did you mean, "but one thing he always had, is the trust and belief of the players."

I not so sure he has has the trust and belief of the players now. In 2016 for sure, and for a while after.

When a coach says( to paraphrase), "I was telling them what to do, but they didn't listen." I doesn't show a lot of trust and belief.

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Paulo
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Bit player at the NT level, better suited for club play and is in good form at the moment. I don't hold him in high regard for NT level, seems childish given his recent form to quit. He must feel not respected, his problem, fight for a spot.

Tony
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According to his wikipedia he's made 25 appearances. That means he only averaged 3 appearances per year since joining the national team. How many times did he start and did he even play for Portugal at any major tournament? I think he's trying to...

According to his wikipedia he's made 25 appearances. That means he only averaged 3 appearances per year since joining the national team. How many times did he start and did he even play for Portugal at any major tournament? I think he's trying to make a statement but unfortunately for him he'll be hardly missed by Santos and the FPF. Nobody happily retires 2 months before a World Cup. Hopefully a good run in the champions league will cheer him up.

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SupremoGino
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I posted earlier if it went through that he is a bit player at the NT level, surplus to requirements won't be greatly missed. He is actually in decent form so not sure what type of statement he is trying to make. Despite my low regard for his...

I posted earlier if it went through that he is a bit player at the NT level, surplus to requirements won't be greatly missed. He is actually in decent form so not sure what type of statement he is trying to make. Despite my low regard for his NT prowess, I feel he should have fought for a place on team -- seems silly to quiet at this point.

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Tony
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Happy to hear this Benfica needs as many key players rested as possible. Rafa was never important for the national team anyway much prefer him fresh and ready for Benfica. Unfortunately as a Benfiquista Ramos got the call up while thats great for...

Happy to hear this Benfica needs as many key players rested as possible. Rafa was never important for the national team anyway much prefer him fresh and ready for Benfica. Unfortunately as a Benfiquista Ramos got the call up while thats great for him he is another id like to see rested.

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Bryan Cabral
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