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Raphaël Varane

Raphaël Varane, football player
  • Name R. Varane
  • Full name Raphaël Varane
  • Date of birth 25 April 1993 (age 31)
  • Birth country France
  • Birth place Lille
  • Nationality France
  • Height 191 cm
  • Weight 81 kg
  • Position Defender
  • Current team Manchester United
  • Current transfer fee € 34.000.000 / Max € 80.000.000


Raphaël Xavier Varane (French pronunciation: ​[ʁafaɛl vaʁan]; born 25 April 1993) is a French professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for Spanish club Real Madrid and the France national team.

He previously played for French club Lens and, ahead of the 2010–11 season, began training with the senior team and appeared on the bench in several league matches. Varane made his professional debut in 2010, aged 17, in a league match against Montpellier.

After one season with the French club and as a professional footballer, Varane joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2011. Since joining the Spanish giants, he has made over 250 appearances for the club and has won 16 major honours, including two La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles.

At only 24 years of age, Varane won his third UEFA Champions League trophy, making him the youngest defender ever to have won three Champions League trophies. He beat Paolo Maldini, who was 26 when he won his third Champions League title.

Varane was a France youth international, having earned caps at under-18, under-20 and under-21 level. He made his full international debut in March 2013 and represented the country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. After an admirable performance during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, he was nominated for the Best Young Player award.

He won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, in which he played every minute of every game. Lens youth coach Eric Assadourian has described Varane as a “truly first-class player” who is “comfortable on both the tactical and technical level”.

Many ex-players and current football managers, such as Fernando Hierro and José Mourinho, consider Varane to be one of the best defenders in world football.


Rafael came to football at the insistence of his father, who himself was fond of this sport. At the age of 7, the boy was sent to the rugby section, and it is not known how the fate of the future football star could have happened if one day he had not decided to like football.

From that moment on, Varan became practically inseparable from the ball. Thanks to daily training, the athlete quickly mastered all the game’s subtleties, and at 18, he signed a contract with the Spanish club Real Madrid.

Behind every successful man stands a strong woman – such a woman for Raphael was his high school love, Camilla Titgat. Young people met in high school, romantic feelings flared up immediately, and they began to meet.

In 2011, Raphael got his chance. He is invited into the “creamy” team, and Camilla supports her lover. She dropped out of law school and went with him to Madrid.

In 2015, young people decided to legalize their relationship; for the marriage ceremony, they chose the church of their hometown. Rafael dreamed of a quiet wedding, but a surprise was waiting for them on their wedding day – crowds of fans accompanied them all the way.

Despite the growing popularity of a football player, the girl prefers to remain in the shadow of her husband. She does not give interviews and rarely appears at secular receptions.

Two years after the wedding, it became known that the couple had become parents; in March 2017, Camilla gave birth to a son, a boy named Sergio.

Now, love and mutual understanding reign in the family. The spouse and son are frequent guests at the games of their star father and husband.

Club career

Early career

Varane was born in the city of Lille in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. He is of Martiniquais heritage through his father, Gaston, who is originally from Le Morne-Rouge, while his mother, Annie, was raised in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux.

Varane began his football career in the Arrondissement of Lille, playing for local club AS Hellemmes at the age of seven. After spending two years at the club, in July 2002, he joined professional club RC Lens, despite some interest from Derby du Nord rivals and hometown club Lille OSC.

Similar to the development of the club’s previous prized assets, such as Gaël Kakuta and Timothée Kolodziejczak, Varane spent time at the Centre de Préformation de Football in nearby Liévin, a training center exclusively for players brought up in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. He spent two years at the center, training there during the weekdays and playing with Lens on the weekends. After returning full-time to Lens, Varane quickly ascended up the club’s youth ranks.

In the 2008–09 season, alongside teammates Thorgan Hazard and Geoffrey Kondogbia, he played on the club’s under-16 team that won the Championnat National des 16 ans. In the following season, Varane was promoted to the club’s under-19 team despite being two years younger than several of his teammates. Ahead of the 2010–11 season, Varane signed his first professional contract.

He was subsequently promoted to the club’s reserve team in the Championnat de France amateur. Varane made his amateur debut in the club’s opening league match of the campaign in a 2–0 victory over Drancy. He appeared as a starter in the club’s next nine matches, with the team losing only one of them.


In late October of the campaign, Varane was called up to the senior team by manager Jean-Guy Wallemme to train ahead of the club’s match against Montpellier on 6 November. He trained with the team for the entire week and, due to an injury to centre-back Alaeddine Yahia, Varane was, surprisingly, named to the starting lineup.

He played the full 90 minutes in a 2–0 victory in the match. The victory was only the club’s third clean sheet of the season. Varane was praised by teammates, most notably captain Adil Hermach, defending partner Eric Chelle, and striker David Pollet, as well as by the local media and coach Wallemme.

In the next two matches, Varane, alongside several other youth players, sat on the bench as Lens faced two tough teams, Marseille and Lyon. He returned to the starting lineup on 30 November in a 4–1 defeat to Brest. Despite the firing of Wallemme following the Brest match, Varane remained a starter in the team under new manager László Bölöni.

In December, with both Chelle and Yahia returning to action, Varane was placed in the defensive midfielder role in the team’s match against Bordeaux. In the match, he acted as a roving third centre-back and made a blocked save in the 84th minute on a close-range shot by Yoan Gouffran to preserve a 2–1 lead. However, in the latter stages of the match, Bordeaux equalized to draw the match at 2–2.

In January 2011, Varane was the subject of transfer speculation, with the player being linked to several clubs. In an effort to quell the interest, on 3 February 2011, he signed a two-year contract extension with Lens until 2015. On 8 May, Varane scored his first professional goal in a 1–1 draw with Caen.

In the team’s following match against Monaco, he scored the equalizing goal in another 1–1 draw. Despite the goal, the stalemate condemned Lens to relegation back to Ligue 2 after two seasons in the top division. On 21 May, Varane captained Lens in its 1–0 defeat to Arles-Avignon.

Real Madrid
2011–12 season

On 22 June 2011, Lens president Gervais Martel confirmed to a group of supporters at a club meeting that Varane would be joining Spanish club Real Madrid, stating, “He will play for Real Madrid under the guidance of José Mourinho.” Varane had previously visited Real Madrid’s club facilities and also met with club advisor and compatriot Zinedine Zidane.

On 27 June, the move was confirmed by Real Madrid after Varane successfully passed his medical. Varane signed a six-year contract with the club, and the transfer fee is purported to be in the range of €10 million. Varane was assigned the number 19 shirt and made his club debut for Real Madrid in the club’s opening pre-season fixture against American outfit Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2011 World Football Challenge.

He appeared as a half-time substitute as Real Madrid cruised to a 4–1 win. Varane made his first start for the club four days later in a 3–0 win over Mexican club Guadalajara. He finished the pre-season campaign appearing in seven of the eight pre-season matches Real Madrid contested.

Varane made his competitive debut for Real Madrid on 21 September in the team’s league match against Racing de Santander. He started the match at centre-back alongside Ricardo Carvalho as the match ended 0–0. In the team’s next league match three days later against Rayo Vallecano, Varane started and scored his first goal for the club after a flying back-heel shot following a Mesut Özil corner.

Real Madrid won the match 6–2. Varane’s goal made him the youngest foreign player at 18 years and 152 days to score a goal in a competitive match for Real Madrid. On 27 September, he made his UEFA Champions League debut in a 3–0 group stage win over Dutch club Ajax.

Two months later, Varane made his second Champions League appearance against Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb. In the match, Varane started and assisted on the team’s fifth goal, scored by José Callejón, in a 6–2 win. The victory ensured Real Madrid first place in its group.

2012–13 season

Ahead of the 2012–13 season, Varane switched to the number 2 shirt. After failing to appear in Real Madrid’s first four league matches, he made his season debut on 18 September in the club’s opening UEFA Champions League group stage match against English club Manchester City. Varane started and played the entire match as Real Madrid won 3–2.

On 30 January 2013, Varane made his El Clásico debut against Barcelona in the 2012–13 Copa del Rey. He stopped a group of dangerous attempts from Barcelona, including a shot from Xavi that he cleared from the goal line. He capped his performance with a headed goal in the game, which ended 1–1.

He also became the second-youngest foreign player to score for Real Madrid in a Clásico match. In the return leg at the Camp Nou on 26 February 2013, Varane scored Madrid’s third goal in a 3–1 away win with a header from a corner kick by Mesut Özil. Varane gained praise from former World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu after his performances against Barcelona and Manchester United.

He said, “We are talking about a kid at Real Madrid who has unseated Pepe, and Pepe, with all his stuff, is still a great centre-half. His performance against Manchester United and Barcelona was extraordinary”. Varane continued to impress in the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Galatasaray, where he helped Madrid keep a clean sheet in a 3–0 triumph. All of his 27 passes found his teammates without any interception, and all of his tackles succeeded, with most on Didier Drogba.

In April 2013, Varane was named by Marca as a member of the “Best Foreign Eleven in Real Madrid’s history”. On 14 May 2013, Varane successfully underwent an operation on his right knee after an injury he had picked up during his last 2012–13 league match against Real Sociedad.

2013–14 season

Varane came on as an injury-time substitute for Karim Benzema in the 2014 Copa del Rey Final, which Real Madrid won 2–1 against Barcelona on 16 April.

He played all 120 minutes of Real Madrid’s 4–1 win over Atlético Madrid in the 2014 UEFA Champions League Final in place of the more experienced Pepe. In added time, at the end of extra time, after Cristiano Ronaldo scored the last goal, Varane kicked the ball toward Atlético manager Diego Simeone, causing him to run onto the pitch in anger. Simeone was sent to the stands, and Varane was booked for the incident.

After the game, Atlético captain Gabi excused Varane due to his youth, while Simeone himself said, “I also made a mistake with my reaction. He’s a young guy with a bright future.”

2014–15 season

On 18 September 2014, Varane signed a new six-year contract that will keep him at Real Madrid until 2020.

2015–16 season

Varane was a part-time starter when the team won the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League.

2016–17 season

Despite having a few injuries during the season, he made 23 appearances when Madrid won the 2016–17 La Liga. He was starting in the final when Madrid won the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League.

2017–18 season

His contract was extended until 2022 on 27 September 2017. During the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League, he made eleven appearances when Madrid won their third consecutive and 13th overall Champions League title.

During the 2018–19 season, he made 43 appearances while winning the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup. He was a regular starter during the following league season, as Real Madrid won the 2019–20 La Liga title.

During the Champions League, Madrid were eliminated in the round of 16 by Manchester City. In the second leg at the City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester, Madrid lost the game 2–1, with Varane being deemed to be at fault for both goals. The mistakes committed by the Frenchman were due to the high pressure from Gabriel Jesus, which led to Varane losing possession of the ball both times. He has since apologized for his mistakes.

Manchester United career

On 27 July 2021, it was announced that Manchester United and Real Madrid had reached an agreement for Varane’s transfer, subject to medical and to player terms being finalized. The transfer was completed on 14 August 2021.

Varane’s arrival was announced in front of a packed Old Trafford crowd ahead of United’s Premier League opener against Leeds United. He was given the number 19 shirt previously worn by Amad Diallo. Raphaël made his debut on 29 August 2021 and contributed an assist to the winning goal in a 1–0 win away against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

On 2 May 2022, Varane scored his first goal for the club in a 3–0 win against Brentford.

On 22 October 2022, Varane suffered a leg injury in a Premier League match against Chelsea. United manager Erik ten Hag said in a press conference on 26 October that the injury would rule Varane out of all of the club’s matches ahead of the break for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, leaving his chances of being selected in the France squad for the tournament uncertain.

On 26 February 2023, Raphaël Varane won his first trophy with the English club as he took place in the starting eleven of the winning team in the EFL Cup final against Newcastle United. On 14 August 2023, Varane scored the winning goal in Manchester United’s first game of the season in a 1–0 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers.


National career


Varane was a French youth international, having earned caps at under-18 and under-21 levels. Prior to playing for the under-18 team, he was called up to the under-17 team but did not make an appearance. Varane made his debut with the under-18 team on 24 August 2010 in a friendly match against Denmark.

On his debut, he scored the final goal in a 2–0 victory. Varane turned down subsequent call-ups to the under-18 team because of his increased participation with the Lens first team and, as a result, missed the Tournoi de Limoges and a tournament in Israel.

On 3 February 2011, he was called up to the under-21 team by coach Erick Mombaerts for the first time for a friendly match against Slovakia. Varane described the call-up as “a huge surprise”. He earned his first under-21 cap and started in the match against Slovakia, playing the entire match in a 3–1 win.

On 15 November, Varane scored his first under-21 goal in a 2–0 2013 Euro U-21 qualifying win over Slovakia. The victory ensured France’s qualification to at least the competition’s qualifying playoffs.


In August 2012, Varane was called to the full French national team squad for a friendly against Uruguay but was an unused substitute. He started his first match for France on 22 March 2013 in a qualifier for the World Cup against Georgia, a 3–1 victory.

On 13 May 2014, he was included in Didier Deschamps’ squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. On 15 June 2014, he partnered Mamadou Sakho in central defence during Les Bleus’ first World Cup fixture – a 3–0 win over Honduras. He was also in the starting line-up for the second group match against Switzerland and the knockout matches against Nigeria and Germany, as France were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by the Germans 1–0.

Varane took the blame for allowing Mats Hummels to hold him off at the critical set-piece, which allowed the German defender to head the winning goal. In spite of this, Varane was named on the three-man shortlist for the tournament’s Best Young Player award.

On 14 October, Varane became the youngest player to captain France when he took over from Blaise Matuidi at halftime in a 3–0 win over Armenia. He was then selected as the team’s starting captain for a home friendly against Sweden on 18 November, where he scored his first international goal to give Les Bleus a 1–0 win.

On 24 May 2016, he was ruled out of UEFA Euro 2016 with a thigh injury and was replaced by Adil Rami. On 17 May 2018, Varane was called up to the 23-man French squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He would go on to start in all seven of France’s games and play every minute.

In the quarterfinal against Uruguay, Varane exorcised the memories of the 2014 quarterfinal nightmare as he headed the opening goal in France’s 2–0 victory. France later went on to win the competition for the second time in history. Varane became only the fourth player to be a World Cup champion and Champions League winner in the same year, after Christian Karembeu (in 1998), Roberto Carlos (in 2002), and Sami Khedira (in 2014). All the players, like Varane, were playing for Real Madrid at the time they won the World Cup.

In May 2021, he was included in the squad for the UEFA Euro 2020. He played in every minute of France’s four matches at the tournament, including the period of extra time at the end of their round of 16 match against Switzerland; that match went to penalties, but Varane was not selected to take one of the first five kicks as France lost 5–4.

In November 2022, Raphaël Varane made the 26-man squad for France for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. On December 18th, Varane was named in the starting XI for France as they played their second successive World Cup final, eventually losing 4-2 on penalties to Argentina.

On 2 February 2023, at 29 years old, Varane announced his retirement from international football. The defender shared a series of photos from his international career alongside the announcement. The announcement marked the end of his ten-year run with the national team, where he made 93 appearances and scored five goals.

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