EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

02/02/2012 09:59, Report by Nick Coppack
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Rafael rates rival defenders

play. I like to play with passion and when I’m on the pitch I can’t worry about getting hurt or stop making tackles. I just want to play football and give my all.

We know you like to do most things with your brother, Fabio. But getting injured at the same time...
[laughs] That’s what everybody was saying! It’s true that we like to go out together – we eat together, we go to the cinema together. But we didn’t plan to get injured at the same time. Definitely not! My brother’s always a big help to me when I’m injured, though, and I try and do the same for him when he’s out. It’s good to have somebody there to keep you positive.

So, how relieved are you to be back now?
I came back against Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup but picked up another small injury in that game. That was disappointing and it knocked my confidence a little but I played again against Blackburn on New Year’s Eve and I’ve played a few times since then. Every game helps and I think I’ve done quite well, so I’m confident I can get better and better.

Sir Alex played you in midfield against Blackburn. Were you surprised?
A little bit, yeah. But I’ve played there before for United so I knew what was expected of me. When the manager told me I was playing in midfield I wasn’t worried. I just thought, “I’m ready, let’s play!”. I’m a professional footballer so I’ll play anywhere. I probably did a little better when I moved back to my normal position, but I felt comfortable in midfield and would do it again. Maybe I’ll move there for good when I get a bit older. You never know! After all, look at Ryan Giggs and the way he has changed over the years. He’s even played at left back once or twice.

What have you made of the team’s performances this season?
At the beginning, we were unbelievable. It was brilliant. Now, it might not be so spectacular but we are still getting results. To be right up there alongside Manchester City is a big

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