CHAMPIONS ARTICLES

Click the main image to browse a selection of iconic photos from Rafael's 2012/13 season.
30/04/2013 07:56, Report by Ben Ashby

Key men: Rafael

In Rafa’s fifth season with United, he’s made that critical transition from youngster with potential to essential first-team regular.

Prior to 2012/13 the most he’d played in a season was 28 games; this campaign he has nailed the right-back spot and is on course to pass 40 appearances, the benchmark of a major contribution.

Injuries to Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, two of Sir Alex’s other right-back options, may have made it easier for Rafael to make the position his own, but the Brazilian has taken his opportunity with panache.

He’s been better than ever with his daredevil forward raids, but there’s been a noticeable step-up in his work at the other end of the field too.

He’s an exuberant player – that’ll never change – but he’s added a maturity that means the risky tackle he might previously have barrelled into can now be eschewed for a safer option. The sky is the limit from here.

Champagne moment: It’d be criminal to overlook his cannonball of a goal at QPR. But to illustrate his value at both ends he also cleared one off the line in that game, something he’s done a number of times this season from his station guarding the post at corners.

Season in three words: Rafa’s big breakthrough.

More: Visit the Champions 2013 section

Enjoy exclusive features and enter a prize draw to win a signed 'Champions 20' shirt
Sign up below to view the content for free

Please enter a valid email address.

Please enter a valid date of birth

Please select a County from the dropdown list.

ContinuePlease read our privacy consent below.

Privacy Consent

By submitting this form you expressly consent that the Manchester United (“MU”) Group (being all companies with the MU name) and the other MU Commercial Partners (as both may change over time) may share & use your personal information (a) to provide products & services you request, (b) for consumer profiling, market research & (c) unless you tick the boxes below to contact you by post, phone or electronically (incl. email, text & DigitalTV) about MU related products, services, offers & events.

Don’t send me details of products, services, offers & events from:

Please click here to read the MU Privacy Policy and for an updated list of MU Group companies & MU Commercial Partners.

Thank you for registering
your details on the site
Good luck in the prize draw
Close

Foundation