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Belief in abundance

"It was one isolated moment from the entire campaign but it encapsulated everything about Rafael's bravery and his unflinching faith in his own ability. Here is a player with the belief that he has what it takes to be the regular right-back."

- Adam Marshall, ManUtd.com

More: Rafael signs new deal | Fabio heads out on loan

02/07/2012 15:05, Report by Adam Marshall
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Blog: Brazilian bravery

Adam Marshall believes Rafael has what it takes to become a Manchester United star...

From the first glimpse of Rafael in a red shirt at a pre-season friendly at Peterborough in 2008, it was obvious he was an instant contender for the first-team.

The full-back constantly plays on the front foot, snaps into tackles and always plays with a sense of urgency that is infectious. Lessons have been learned as you would expect from a youngster being plunged into combat at the highest level but there is something special about the 21-year-old that marks him out as a rare talent.

Sir Alex often talks about players being brave and it's clear what he means in this respect. It's not just about blocking shots with your body and putting your head in where it hurts, although Rafael often does this - as his injury lay-offs testify. Simply to play for a club like the Reds at a packed Old Trafford takes courage.

There was one instance last season when the home crowd were grumbling in a certain fixture, if I recall correctly, soon after the 6-1 defeat to Manchester City. Tension was rising and it was clear an improvement was being demanded. Rafael made a mistake and there was an audible groan. Seconds later, the ball was swiftly back in his possession.

Did he crumble? If I was in his shoes, I'd have attempted the simplest of passes in order to avoid any likelihood of error or, more realistically, frozen altogether. Instead, he tricked his way past his opponent with the sort of skill and flair we always associate with Brazilians. It was impossible to tell from the Stretford End but he may as well have had a smile on his face while beating his man with such effortless grace and natural confidence.

It was one isolated moment from the entire campaign but it encapsulated everything about Rafael's bravery and his unflinching faith in his own ability. Here is a player with the belief that he has what it takes to be a top-class performer.

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