Why did Raphinha walk on his knees after Leeds United escaped relegation?

  • Video courtesy of Beren Cross

After a momentous sporting victory, it's not unsual for an athlete to perform a lap of honour.

But, amid the euphoria of avoiding relegation from the Premier League, Leeds United midfielder Raphinha was seen travelling the length of the Brentford pitch on his knees.

His side had just beaten the Bees 2-1 to secure their top flight status, with Burnley replacing them in the drop zone on the final day of the season after they lost to Newcastle by the same scoreline.

And the unorthodox gesture sparked confusion on social media as to why the Brazilian had done it.

Why did Raphinha walk on his knees?

After the final whistle, the Leeds players celebrated wildly with their supporters in the corner of the Brentford Community stadium having secured their top flight status for another year.

Raphinha, who scored the opening goal of Leeds' win, couldn't contain his jubilation –jumping into the crowd to join the revelry.

He later posted on social media: "I think the photos speak a thousand words. Thank you for everyone's support. We are staying up!"

Raphinha jumped into the crowd to celebrate with the travelling Leeds fans Credit: PA

But, in a much more solemn gesture, it was his knee-walk which needed further explanation.

It would appear that Raphinha had divine inspiration.

In South America it is a ritual to repay god for granting a wish. With Leeds remaining a Premier League side, with a win on the final day of the season, the 25-year-old's gesture was a way of honouring that promise.

Raphinha later posted about the achievement of surviving in the Premier League: "It was difficult, it was very difficult, but we fought hard and we achieved our goal of keeping this great club in the Premier League."

And after the players returned to the dressing room, it was up to manager Jesse Marsch to sum up the dramatic end to the season as he gave his players an emotional speech.

He said: "A group that shows belief and never says quit, that runs for each other, that fights for each other, that does everything we can and that is what got us here.

"It’s the character of you guys, I don’t want to stand in front of the fans and hear my name chanted, it’s us. It will always be us and we are staying in the Premier League, gents."

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