Rafinha was born in Londrina, Brazil on 7 September, 1985. At the age of 7, he joined his local futsal team, Gremio Londrinense. In 2001, when he was 16, he moved to Coritiba. He also joined the Brazilian under-20 national football team. He was then signed by FC Schalke 04 on a four-year contact for what is widely believed to be a transfer fee of €5 million
Rafinha has been called up to the senior Brazil squad once and has made a combined total of 16 appearances in the Under-20 and Under-23 sides.