26 Desember, 2008

Rafael: Fergie is a lovely man

TO some, Alex Ferguson is the godfather of English football: Powerful, successful and often ruthless.

But to his players, he remains more of a father figure: Kind, caring and encouraging — no matter who you are.

Just ask Rafael da Silva. The Brazilian right-back has broken into Manchester United’s first team this season to great effect and is set to face Stoke today.

He played in the weekend’s World Club Cup final triumph over Ecuador’s LDU Quito and is hungry for more success.

But the teenager admitted he would never have done that without the paternal care of the man who everyone at United calls “gaffer”.

At 19 and far from home, Rafael and his left-back brother Fabio have been able to look at the Old Trafford chief as more than just their boss.

Rafael said: “Sir Alex Ferguson is like a father for me. Off the pitch, he is a great and lovely man.

“He helps me out a lot in Manchester. He knows perfectly how to deal with youngsters and when to bring them to the first team. He doesn’t talk much but when he talks, he says only right things.

“He knows when he needs to be supportive and explain ‘look, you can’t do that now’.

“And he knows how to be really tough when the team is not playing well.”

But the boss is not the only help the young hopeful has had since signing for United from Brazilian side Fluminense two years ago.

Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo speaks the same language and has been a great help and inspiration.

Rafael revealed: “I will never forget the first training session with Cristiano Ronaldo. I think it was my third trip to Manchester. I was 16 and we were going to play a game in Belgium. I scored in that game.

“Ronaldo is a sensational person. Very humble and he jokes with us all the time and is nothing like his public superstar image.”

Rafael has burst on to the scene in the absence of the injured Gary Neville.

He even scored his first goal for the Premier League champions in their 2-1 defeat by Arsenal at the Emirates last month.


And if he and Fabio progress the way Ferguson expects, they will become the first brothers to play for United since the Gary and Phil Neville partnership was broken by the latter’s move to Everton in 2005.

It is an ambition which both lads share and one which they are trying to help each other to achieve.

Rafael said: “As my brother and I play full-back, one knows when the other is not doing the right thing.

“We are very demanding towards each other.

“Yes, one day our paths might be separated. But on the other hand, maybe one day we can play together for Brazil as well as for United. It is my dream to be in the Brazil national team.”

English football’s boast of being the best in the world is supported by Rafael.

Even though one part of life in England the young Brazilians do not enjoy is the nightlife — something which no doubt pleases Fergie!

Rafael said: “English football is the best right now.

“It was easy to adapt, because I’ve always enjoyed physical football. I am fast, I like to run and I like to pass the ball quickly. In life we need objectives and I want to be a starter in this team.

“You can't be worried about who is playing, history or whatever. I just want to play ... always.

“A player’s career ends early but, more recently, it has been starting earlier and earlier.

“I am so young and have accomplished lots of dreams already.

“I don’t like losing. Absolutely nothing. In life, I enter every competition, be it a video game or a football match, to win.

“Off the pitch, my brother and I are used to staying at home. And to be honest, for anyone who likes going out, Manchester must be horrible.

“But that’s fine. We like to stay home!”

‘Father’ Fergie must be so proud.(thesun)

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