EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

21/10/2010 07:00, Report by Nick Coppack
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Rafa: I've learned a lot

How tough do you expect it to be in Turkey?
I didn’t play in Besiktas last season but my brother Fabio did. He told me the fans over there are mad – they scream and shout throughout the whole 90 minutes. In those sorts of atmospheres you’d usually say a draw wouldn’t be a bad result but here at United we always go out to win.

Your often lauded for your attacking attributes. Do you feel your defensive qualities go unnoticed?
No, I don’t think so. If I’m needed to attack then I’ll get forward, but if I’m needed to do a job in defence then I’ll get back. In the past I probably pushed up a lot more than I do now. However, I’ve learned a lot playing here in England and I know you can’t always do that. I’m defending a lot more nowadays than I used to. When I go out on the pitch I feel like a defender – my job is to stop the other team scoring.

Do you think this could be the season you establish yourself as first-choice right back?
I always want to be the manager’s first choice and I’ll work hard to make that happen. When I arrived at the club I was very young and I knew I wouldn’t play all the time. It’s not that I think I shouldn’t ever be on the bench now, but I’m always hoping to play in every game. You have to be prepared to take your chance and it’s only the manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who chooses

who will take to the field. If he doesn’t choose you then you have to work even harder the next week. Patience is important.

You've now made 50 United appearances. How many more would you like to make?
I don’t want to put a limit on it but I’d like to think I could play 500 games for Manchester United. I came to England to work hard and play football and I want to do that for as long as possible. Every match I play is a dream that I fulfil in life.

Finally, you’ve been in Manchester almost three years. Do you feel a bit English now?
Well, I love crisps! I’ve always loved crisps and here in England there are loads of varieties to enjoy. Does that make me English? [laughs] Seriously though, the people here are so kind and helpful. They make me feel at home; I’m really happy in Manchester.

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