Rio de Janeiro-born Rafael is very much a modern full-back: he loves to bomb down the right flank - but he's not all just Brazilian flair, he's also made of tough stuff.
Rafael is a full Brazil international and settled quicker than his twin Fabio after making his debut against Peterborough in Barry Fry's testimonial back in August, 2008. It was soon evident United had a ready-made first-teamer on their hands, even though he was only 18 at the time. Finally, it was the end of one long journey from his former Brazilian club Fluminense, and the start of a new one with United.
What made Rafael's debut all the more startling was that he hadn't played for over a year. The Reds had been waiting for international clearance on the pair's transfer from Brazil, so they had been unable to turn out for United during that time and, in fact, didn't play any regular competitive football. Both brothers were spotted by Les Kershaw, then Academy Manager, in the summer of 2005 while playing for Fluminense in a Hong Kong youth tournament.
Rafael seems dauntless, and his ten-minute cameo on his competitive debut against Newcastle appeared to back up that claim, as did his first goal in a red shirt - a stunning last-minute