A virtual unknown, even in his home country of Brazil, prior to the 2008/09 season, rampaging right-back Rafael quickly served notice of a bright, bombarding future at Old Trafford...
Start to finish: After the Da Silva brothers’ transfer from Fluminese was cleared in August, Rafael was given his chance to impress in a pre-season friendly against Peterborough. The Brazilian youth international seized it with a breathtaking display, leading Sir Alex Ferguson to describe his performance as "a sensation".
In position: Rafael’s pace and attacking tendencies gave the Reds new options in defence. “In Brazil, the right-back is always attacking, but not here,” he told United Review in January. With Gary Neville nearer the end of his great career than the beginning, Rafael is looking to seize the right-back spot for keeps.
Season highlight: His Brazilian flair shone at the Emirates, where he scored United’s only goal in a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal - a spectacular volley from the edge of the area.
Vital contribution: “Good work”: The words of countryman Robinho after Rafael had marked him out of the local derby at Eastlands in November.