Rafael and Fabio: Ronaldo call convinced us to join!

Tuesday 25 January 2022 14:09

In the latest UTD Podcast episode, which is out now, Rafael and Fabio da Silva spill the beans on a phone call with Cristiano Ronaldo that convinced them to join the club.

The twins had been on the Reds' radar for some time before they agreed to join United in February 2007.

They had to wait until the following year, when they both turned 18, to actually sign their professional contracts, but quickly made an impression upon arriving at Old Trafford.

The move from South America – and Rio de Janeiro club Fluminense – was a daunting one at such a young age, but Ronaldo's influence clearly had a massive impact on their decision to make the jump to M16.
UTD Podcast: Our phone call with Cristiano Ronaldo Video

UTD Podcast: Our phone call with Cristiano Ronaldo

The Brazilians tell us the story of how they were scouted by United and receiving a phone call from a certain no.7…

“He called my phone, and I'll never forget that,” Rafael told UTD Podcast hosts Helen Evans, Sam Homewood and David May.

“My phone had all the zeros [on the screen, to indicate an international call] and I was saying ‘Who is this? I've never received a call like this.’ I answered, and I knew him because I'd trained with him before.
“He just said: ‘Ah, [Portuguese greeting]!’ I ran to my bus saying: ‘It's Ronaldo, it's Ronaldo! He's calling us to speak!’
“He just said: ‘It's raining here, it's raining here in Manchester, like you know.’ He said: ‘I call to say to you guys: sign for Manchester United. I know you are going to like it,’ et cetera.

“I could not believe [it]. It was amazing.”
Rafael knew Ronaldo due to several trials and training days he had enjoyed at Carrington, as brother Fabio explained.

“When my brother came back from his first time, from 20 days [of] training with Man United, he was so excited,” he smiled. “He actually got bigger. I didn't go the first time he went, because I was with the Under-15s in Brazil, and he went on his own. 

“He came back so excited, speaking about everything: how big the training ground was, the players he met, and he met Sir Alex Ferguson. He was so excited. To be honest, we are twins, so, of course, he spoke with me and told me everything, but I couldn't feel his excitement.
“John Calvert [-Toulmin], the scout, said ‘They really like us.’ So, for us, we said: ‘Maybe it's going to happen.’ We start to have a few of these trials, or like training days. Ronaldo called us to [encourage us to] sign. I think Sir Alex got him to call us. That time, I actually thought: this is true!”
UTD Podcast: Making our United debuts Video

UTD Podcast: Making our United debuts

The da Silva twins look back on their first appearances for United, including how Rafael helped Fabio with his nerves…

It was later revealed that club scout Les Kershaw had recommended the identical duo to Sir Alex as “a pair of whippets” – a distinctly British description that didn't immediately translate to the Portuguese-speaking pair.

“I remember reading that!” laughed Rafael. “It was fun because we are really like this, you know? We like to run everywhere and sometimes do crazy tackles.

“So it was funny to see [that]. I understood after, when my English was better, because I could not understand what it meant.”
UTD Podcast: Adjusting to life at United Video

UTD Podcast: Adjusting to life at United

Rafael and Fabio reveal how the likes of Carlos Queiroz, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani helped them settle in…

The loveable, curly-haired twins quickly became cult figures at United, where they would make a combined 226 appearances, scoring eight goals between them, and picking up numerous pieces of silverware along the way.

But the pair suggested that their biggest achievement was enabling their parents to give up their exhausting jobs in Brazil, due to the financial security afforded by their professional United contracts.
UTD Podcast: The joy of playing together Video

UTD Podcast: The joy of playing together

Rafael and Fabio reminisce on sharing the pitch during their time at Old Trafford…

“When my mum and dad sat in the office to sign the contract, that time I felt like it's really happening,” Fabio remembered.
“That moment, to be honest, changed everything in our life, because our mum and dad worked Monday to Monday. The money changed it, because we could tell my mum and dad: ‘No, you don't need to do that anymore. Now we can move to an apartment, and you can live with us and you don't need to work.’ And, at that time, it happened.”

To hear more about the twins' incredible careers, and their memorable days at United, listen to this special UTD Podcast.