Brazilian defender Rafael made his 50th United appearance against Bursaspor on Wednesday night. It was the 20-year-old's first European outing at Old Trafford since last season's fateful quarter-final second leg, when he was sent off against Bayern Munich and the Reds exited the competition.
Rafael spoke exclusively to us before the Bursaspor game and was open and honest about that disappointment... and his love for crisps.
How do you feel looking back on that game against Bayern Munich?
Well, I’ve learnt a lot. I was probably a little silly to give away my first yellow card [for a kick at Mark van Bommel] but the second one [a tug on Franck Ribery's shirt]… I never thought the referee would show me one for that. But the lessons I learned were important – not just in football but in my life. Now I have to put that behind me and focus on the future.
What was the mood like in the dressing room after the match?
In my head I was sure everyone was looking at me as if to say, ‘What have you done?’. But Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes came over straight away, spoke to me and offered support. Not just them, either – I remember Jonny Evans, Gibbo, Rio… they were all supportive. A lot of players comforted me and gave me encouragement. That’s what this club is like.
Was that one of the most difficult nights you’ve endured in football?
It was the worst experience I’ve had in all my life. That night I learnt that in football you can go from heaven to hell in a matter of minutes. I was playing really well in the first half and then… well, you know what happened. If I hadn’t have been sent off we almost certainly would have won the match and my life would be much easier now. It would have taken a lot of weight off my
shoulders. Now I feel like I have to prove myself all over again and show everybody I’m capable of being a Manchester United player.