for decade, you don't want to be a catalyst for that success finishing. It was the league title and I thought I'd never be able to get my hands on it. To be a part of that in my first year set me up for what followed."
Even greater highs were in store, and the undoubted highlight remains lifting the Champions League trophy as captain in Moscow in 2008.
"It was a great moment," he said. "Sir Bobby Charlton spoke to me and said a few words about the history of the club. He was telling me to remember the moment, savour the moment. He congratulated me and it meant a lot. Then to go up those steps with Giggsy as well, someone who’s been at the club for so many years and came through the youth set-up; it was just a perfect moment."
Rio remains an integral part of United's squad as one of the most experienced members of David Moyes' team, but when he walks out for his testimonial match at Old Trafford on Friday 9 August, he will have earned the applause that awaits him having more than fulfilled his promises and potential.
More: Download our Rio infographic | Back to the United Uncovered menu