The 28-year-old full-back has been a Borussia Dortmund player since July 2016. As of June 2022, the Portugal international has made 186 appearances for the club (32 goals/36 assists). He won the DFB-Pokal in 2017 and 2021.
Although born and raised in Paris, Raphael Guerreiro is Portuguese through and through.''My family, my way of thinking, the way I was brought up - all of this makes me Portuguese,’’ says the full-back, who has been a BVB player for four years now. ''I have a French passport as well as a Portuguese one, but my heart has always beat for Portugal. I have always respected France, but I could never imagine playing for the French national team.''
Guerreiro moved to Dortmund in 2016 on the back of winning the Euros with Portugal. In fact, he almost stole the headlines in the final: shortly before Eder's winning goal in extra-time, Guerreiro had struck the post from a free-kick. What is more, he delivered the corner that Cristiano Ronaldo headed into the back of the net to secure a 1-0 win over Wales in the semi-final. And five years later, at the Covid-delayed EURO 2020, he was once again a key member of the defending champions’ side. Guerreiro played the full 90 minutes in all four of Portugal’s matches at the tournament and scored a goal against Hungary, but he was powerless to prevent his country from going out in the last 16 due to a 1-0 loss against Belgium. The technically gifted player had his side’s best chance of the game, but he could only hit the woodwork.
Guerreiro is an immensely gifted and accomplished full-back. He has a real eye for goal in the final third and has the ability to cause problems for opposition defences through his intelligence and technical skill, not to mention his deadly set-piece delivery. In the 2020/21 Bundesliga season, he scored five goals and provided 11 assists, bettered among his teammates by only Jadon Sancho (12 assists). That season, he averaged 97 touches per 90 minutes - more than any other Black & Yellow - and also played more one-twos than any other player in the league (42). In 2021/22, despite only being able to play 23 league games due to injury and illness, he again scored four goals. Freiburg's Philipp Lienhart was the only defender to score more (five). Among other things, he scored for the first time from a direct free-kick (away to Leverkusen) and a penalty (against Augsburg).
"I like it when the opposition press us up the park, as it creates spaces that can be exploited with a good eye and confident passing. I love finding quick solutions in these situations. What I'm trying to say is: I'm not your typical left-back. Whenever possible, I move inside," he said in the March 2021 issue of BORUSSIA's members' magazine, adding: "I don't particularly like the term defender because, for me, it doesn't reflect what I want to achieve on the pitch. For me, the left flank is a base for my excursions into other areas of the pitch. Stubbornly holding positions is not the kind of football I play. I wouldn't be able to help the team in the way I do by following my own style. Modern football is a game of positional changes. If everyone just holds their position, the game becomes too static."
The full-back was born and raised in Le Blanc-Mesnil, a housing development on the outskirts of Paris that was struck by the riots of the autumn of 2005. The Stade de France is located no more than 10km from where he grew up. So it was that Guerreiro - who has a Portuguese father, a French mother and a passport for both countries - won the European Cup with Portugal on his own doorstep in the French capital. At 11 years of age, Guerreiro was selected for the Centre Technique National Fernand-Sastre, the French Football Foundation's renowned academy in Clairefontaine.
Three years later, Guerreiro was recruited by the SM Caen youth programme. From 2010 onwards, he was regularly turning out for their reserve team in the French fourth-tier. In 2012, at 18 years of age, he signed his first professional contract. One year later, he moved to FC Lorient, where he would go on to make 102 appearances and score 10 goals – an impressive record for a full-back. Guerreiro's strength going forward is one of the defining characteristics of his game, alongside his tactical intelligence, which he believes he developed as a means of compensating for his diminutive stature: ''I was always one of the smallest players in my team, but that was never a problem. I always found a way to keep pace with the others.''
Guerreiro made his debut for the Portugal U21s in 2013 and just one year later, he made the step up to the senior team, winning his first cap in November 2014. With just 12 appearances to his name, he was involved in his country's greatest ever success – triumph at the Euros in 2016. June 2017 marked the beginning of a long period plagued by injuries. First, while representing Portugal at the Confederations Cup in Russia, he suffered an ankle fracture (not initially identified by his national team doctor) which left him sidelined for four months. In fact, the only time he managed to make the starting line-up in 2017/18 was on the very last matchday of the season. Nonetheless, he was still called up for the Portugal squad for the 2018 World Cup, where he started all four matches. The same was true at Euro 2020.
''I've recently made a lot of changes to my lifestyle,'' says Guerreiro as he discusses his injury issues, which he hopes are now a thing of the past. ''A physiotherapist comes to my house once a week to work on my muscles. That really helps my recovery after matches. I've also altered my diet. I now eat a lot more vegetables than I used to, for example.'' The Guerreiros have long become settled in the Westphalian metropolis. "It's unbelievable how this city loves and lives for football. The early days here were tough, especially the second season when I was injured so often. In the meantime, everything has fallen into place very well. I'm very happy in Dortmund, and so is my family."