Almost unknown when he arrived at United a year ago with his twin brother Fabio, Rafael has been quick to make his mark at Old Trafford. Already a world champion, he’s intent on more silverware to cap a stunning maiden campaign...
A year ago you began training at United – did you think you could come so far, so quickly?
When I arrived, I had not played for a year. I was surprised when I played against Peterborough in August, I never thought it would happen so soon. I know my ability, but my training was not good at first. After the first game, the boss said some very good things about me, which was fantastic for me because I love this club. I am already thinking of being here in many, many years. One year ago I was not even playing, now to play so much is fantastic.
There are a few Brazilians at United these days – does that help make you feel at home?
Yes, very much. When I first came here, there were no Brazilians and only Ronaldo who spoke Portuguese. Now there's Nani, Anderson, Ronaldo, Manucho, Rodrigo (Possebon), (Evandro) Brandao... Fabio, my brother, of course. It is very nice, and very helpful that I can speak Portuguese, but it's not so good for my English!
You're young and learning, what areas of your game are you trying to improve most?
I think being in defence, because here is completely different to Brazil. The right-back in Brazil is always attacking, attacking, attacking, but not here. For me, maybe sometimes it is that way because I like attacking, but it’s not usually that way in England so I want to improve my defending.
Gary Neville is one of your direct rivals for the right-back position, but is he helping you?
Rivals, yes, but he has helped me so much. All the time he is helping me. In games we've played together he is always telling me where the right position is to be. He knows so much. I want the position of right-back, but Gary has been very good to me.
How enjoyable was it to score your first goal at Arsenal, even though United lost?
(Smiles) I will never forget that game. because this was my first goal for United, and a nice goal too! United and Arsenal is a big game, so it was very good to score. I did not celebrate because the team was losing. If we had got another goal, then I would have celebrated more.