As we near the end of 2012, Rafael says he will look back on the last year with fond memories.
While the disappointment of a trophyless 2011/12 season still rankles, on a personal level 2012 has arguably been the Brazilian’s best in a red shirt.
The 22-year-old, who has started more games than anyone else this term, says he has matured as a player and a person this year and insists his confidence is growing with every match.
“It’s been a great year for me,” he told ManUtd.com. “I feel like I have grown up a lot and that I am maturing - my daughter was born this year which has helped me a lot too. And on the pitch I have been able to play a lot of games. So I’ve had a lot of good moments not just in football but in life this year.
“Playing games week in, week out helps you feel more comfortable and confident on the pitch and I’m pleased I’ve been able to do that this season.
“I feel more experienced and like I am growing as a player and a person. I was only 18 when I first came here, I was just a boy. Some people may think I am still young and still a boy but now I feel like I'm a man.”