Rio Ferdinand describes Rafael as “the best right-back in the Premier League and Champions League this season.” So, in recognition of the much-loved Brazilian’s form, we’ve put together an image gallery of the 22-year-old’s progress from enthusiastic teen to first-team regular.
Oh, and you can also win a shirt signed by United’s no.2 simply by entering our competition and answering the following question: which was the first trophy Rafael won as a first-team player with the Reds?
There is a pretty big clue among our ten favourite Rafael pics, so click the main image above to launch the gallery, which includes shots of his goals against Arsenal (his first for United in 2008) and Liverpool (his most recent earlier this season).
But it’s not always been about epic highs. Rafael’s red card against Bayern Munich in April 2010 prompted him to say: “It was the worst experience I’ve had in all my life. That night I learnt that in football you can go from heaven to hell in a matter of minutes.”
Yet the reason he is respected by his peers and loved on the terraces is that he has come back stronger. A lot stronger. He has been a stand-out performer in the 2012/13 campaign, which is exactly why owning his signed United shirt is an unmissable prize.