By Noel Whelan

9th Sep, 2021 | 6:00pm

Whelan hails 'brilliant' Raphinha-Leeds news after Radrizzani reveal

Noel Whelan has hailed Raphinha for rejecting the chance to play for Brazil to remain at Leeds United over the international break.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, admitted the 24-year-old made a “hard decision” to snub his country.

Speaking to BBC Sport (7th September), Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani revealed the winger chose to turn down Brazil’s call after being given the choice by the club.

It was the 24-year-old’s first international call-up.

Radrizzani applauded the winger for showing “great respect” to the club.

Whelan admitted turning down his country would have been a difficult decision for Raphinha to make.

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However, he suggested it showed remarkable maturity from the 2020 signing.

Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “There’s two sides to it. I think he probably would have loved to have gone if the situation was right.

“Covid-wise you’re going into a country that’s in the red zone. You’ve got to protect yourself, protect your family, protect other people at Leeds United as well.

“I think it is a sensible decision. A hard one because obviously you’re hitting your pinnacle as a football player, going and representing your country.

“But I do believe that shows a maturity from Raphinha to pass that opportunity up. For the safety of himself and for the safety of everybody else around them at the football club as well.

“He’s fully focused and he’s putting his club first. Brilliant credit to him. There’s going to be other opportunities, absolutely, for him to go and represent his national side. This is not just going to go away.

“I think it becomes personal choice for a lot of players when they get called up. If they feel safe enough to go, they represent. If not, they don’t.

“I think he did the right thing. I don’t think there was any doubt in his mind.”

In other news, ex-manager heralds “brilliant recruitment” from Leeds United after development this week.