EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

31/12/2012 09:16, Report by Nick Coppack
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Rafael: I'm not a kid now

You seemed to have struck up a really good understanding with Antonio Valencia down the right wing. How enjoyable is it to play with Antonio?
It's amazing. He's a terrific player and he's so strong. When I go out on the pitch and Antonio is in front of me it fills me with confidence. We have a very good relationship off the pitch as well – perhaps that helps during games.

Do you know much about David Beckham and Gary Neville's partnership down the right in the 90s?
Of course, and I hope me and Antonio can have the same success at United. To play together for almost 10 years here would be incredible and I'm sure we could have a lot of success. It would be a dream to develop a partnership as good as that one. I like the fact that Neville and Beckham were good friends as well.

Sir Alex said recently that whenever you go back to Brazil you end up playing football every day in the street. Is that true?
Yes, it is! I love it. We always spend time with our friends when we go back and part of that is playing against other teams from the neighbourhood in our city. It's not a big city and it's just for fun so it's really enjoyable. We also play a lot of beach soccer and volleyball but with the feet and head. It's obviously very different to playing at Old Trafford – there's not as much pressure and we don't have to run quite as much!

But the boss says you "train like a beast"!
I read that [laughs]! I think it's because when I play football I just forget about everything else in my life and I commit to football 100 per cent. It doesn't matter if it's a cup final or a training session - I always give my all and I always want to win. I think it's important to train to the same level as you would play a match. It's the best way to prepare.

Part two will be published on Tuesday 1 January.

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