“We have great hopes for the lad. He’s impressed us a lot, has no fear of playing and has great belief in himself. I feel the boy has something special. He’s only 18 but he’s started very well.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
“He’s got such a great enthusiasm for the game. He just wants to play and to win. He loves to dribble, cross the ball, score goals… and he smiles all the time, which is brilliant to see. He’ll settle down and be a very good player.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
“It’s healthy competition. Rafael’s come in this season and he’s a quality young player; I’m sure he’s the future for Manchester United.”
“I saw Rafael [in the pre-season game against Peterborough] and I didn’t particularly like what I saw! Seriously, though, he has absolutely fantastic potential.”
The arrival of identical twins, both full-backs and Under-18 internationals for Brazil, slipped under the radar of most Reds. For those in the know, whispers abounded about the former Fluminense pair who were dubbed, unimaginatively, the ‘Samba Nevilles’.
Rafael impressed in pre-season at Peterborough and during his competitive debut against Newcastle, and has tasted more first-team action since, notably scoring against Arsenal at the weekend. Former Red Clayton Blackmore has watched with interest as Rafael has slotted into Sir Alex’s side, whether in the Premier League, Carling Cup or Champions League.
“Rafael’s been fantastic,” says Blackmore. “He’s like a breath of fresh air. He’s got so much energy, he’s lightning fast and he loves to get stuck in and make a tackle, which is perfect for the English game. He’s very similar to Patrice Evra in the way that he likes to charge forward. I think he’ll be well suited to a wing-back role, which is how we like to play these days.”
Sir Alex recently admitted that he’d been so impressed by his new no.21 that he now