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Raphael Rossi Branco made himself something of a cult hero at Town over a four year spell in the mid-2010s. Born in Brazil, he moved to England to play for Gus Poyet’s Brighton, but contractual wrangles meant that he was playing for Whitehawk in the Isthmian League when he joined Town’s pre-season trip to Portugal in the summer of 2013.
After impressing on the tour, Branco signed a one-year deal and made himself a firm fixture on the bench, with nineteen unused substitute appearances broken up only by a debut in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Plymouth. He made his league debut as a second half substitute at Bradford in December, replacing the injured Grant Hall, and then had a small run in the first team on his way to 16 starts in his first season of league football.
The 2014/15 season saw Branco regularly filling in as one of three centre-backs, despite showing considerably less technical ability than the first choice trio of Nathan Thompson, Jordan Turnbull and Jack Stephens. Despite being Brazillian, Branco was very much an old-fashioned English-style centre half, focused far more on preventing chances for the opposition than beginning attacks for his own side, and collecting regular yellow cards. An incident in April’s game against Bristol City served to make him more popular with many Town fans, as he appeared to elbow former Town defender and pantomime villain Aden Flint at a corner, which went unpunished during the game but later netted him a three match ban.
Branco’s third season at Town saw him established as a first choice defender in a three or more often a flat back four, most commonly alongside Jordan Turnbull. In December, he received what was rather surprisingly his first red card in a home defeat to Gillingham when he picked up a second yellow card for taking out the Gills winger as he broke down the left hand side. In his fourth and final season at Town, Branco was a regular part of a poor Town side which was relegated from League One.
Branco left Town after the relegation, rather surprisingly signing for Portuguese top flight club Boavista, before later playing in Switzerland and Poland.
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