Rodrigo Muniz opens up on 'difficult' Middlesbrough loan spell for the first time

Rodrigo Muniz of Middlesbrough
Rodrigo Muniz of Middlesbrough -Credit:James Heaton/News Images

Rodrigo Muniz says he would go home and cry after Middlesbrough training and almost gave up on his European dream as a result.

Muniz spent last season on loan at the Riverside but made only six starts for the club - all but one of which came before Michael Carrick's arrival at the end of October 2022. He would start the new head coach's first game in charge but axed after an hour in that one, he would barely play again.

With attempts to move him on in the January transfer window failing, Muniz was left spending most matches as an unused sub as resurgent Boro raced up the Championship table to a play-off finish. For the Brazilian, who'd turned down Boro for Fulham the previous summer, he was beginning to doubt if his European dream would work out - with his former head coach in his home country offering him a return.

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Opening up on his Boro loan for the first time, Muniz told Globo Esporte: "When Renato [Gaucho] called me, I really wanted to go. It was January last year, I was at Middlesbrough and I wasn't playing. It was difficult. I would come home and cry.

"Things at Middlesbrough unfortunately didn't happen. I played all the first games, but when the coach changed, some things happened at the club that I had nothing to do with, but they affected me.

"My wife held my arm and said: "You always said you want to play here, why are you going back to Brazil now?" We bought together this idea of staying, playing for another year, and thank God things happened. Marco Silva (Fulham coach) called me at the end of the season and said he wanted to count on me. Things hadn't happened, but he trusted me."

Silva's trust has eventually paid off. While Muniz struggled for game time and had injuries in the first half of the season back at Craven Cottage, he hadn't managed a single goal by the end of January. But with injuries offering the 22-year-old a chance in February, he would score eight goals in eight games and ended up winning the Premier League Player of the Month award for March.

He continued: "I was very grateful just to be nominated. I know it's difficult to win, but it already shows that the work is being done well and that things are happening. People started to compare me with Richarlison because it was also Marco Silva (coach) who brought him (to Watford and then to Everton).

"But Richarlison already played for Fluminense, he was already a starter. And I come from Flamengo, which had Gabigol and Pedro [who he was still behind in the pecking order]. Now that I'm starting to have that sequence of professional games and things are happening."