UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Grafite braced for Beşiktaş test

VfL Wolfsburg striker Grafite cannot wait to take the positives from his club's Matchday 2 defeat at Manchester United FC into the German champions' third Group B assignment against Beşiktaş JK.

Grafite is in fighting mood
Grafite is in fighting mood ©Getty Images

After the dream start of a hat-trick in the opening-night victory over PFC CSKA Moskva, VfL Wolfsburg forward Grafite had a lesson in the UEFA Champions League's harsh realities on Matchday 2. Yet having swapped goalkeeping gloves for shooting boots as a youngster after a wayward ball struck him in the "private parts", he is adept at turning a negative into a positive.

Leading 1-0 at Manchester United FC on 30 September, his team fell victim to a typical United turnaround, returning home empty-handed after a 2-1 loss. Even so, the German titleholders can draw encouragement from that display for the tests to come, according to Grafite. "The way we played against United has given us more confidence," he told uefa.com. "It wasn't easy going there and I imagine quite a few people thought we were going to lose heavily, but we did well against a very experienced team.

"The Champions League is about that – difficult games in front of big crowds – and the team is getting more experience for the future. In the first half and for the first part of the second, we played good football, scored the first goal and might have deserved a bit more," added the once-capped Brazilian, whose side's next Group B outing is at home to Turkish champions Beşiktaş JK on Wednesday.

Living the dream
Cynics may raise an eyebrow when the term fairy tale is applied to a club with the expensive backing Wolfsburg enjoy. Yet when Grafite talks about living "every player's dream", you have to listen. Now aged 30, he only began playing professionally at 22. "I used to sell rubbish bags on the streets. My daughter Ana Carolina had been born and I needed to work."

His rags-to-riches story is long on anecdotes. Not many leading footballers would give the following explanation as to why they ended up in attack: playing futsal in goal as a boy, "I was hit by the ball really hard in my private parts and said I was never going to play there again". His moniker Grafite, meanwhile, came after his first coach said he reminded him of another "tall and skinny" player of that name. "At first I didn't like it and I told him 'My name is not Grafite but Edinaldo'."

Strike partner
Grafite's name now echoes around Europe. He set a Bundesliga record with strike partner Edin Džeko last term, the pair sharing 54 goals. He said of their understanding: "Džeko doesn't only score goals, he creates them and so do I. When one of us is in the penalty area, the other goes wide; when one goes right, the other goes left so we complement each other."

'More luck'
Both have already made their mark in the UEFA Champions League, with Džeko scoring at United and Grafite notching a hat-trick against CSKA Moskva – an "essential victory" for a team that had just suffered three straight Bundesliga losses. "It was the spur for us to get back to how we were last year." Grafite is aiming for a similar showing against Beşiktaş on Matchday 3, and "hopefully a bit more luck than at Old Trafford".