The Brazilians moved to England from Fluminense in January 2008, and although Rafael enjoyed more game time at Old Trafford – making 169 appearances to Fabio’s 56 – the pair were able to lift the Premier League title together in 2010/11.
Rafael linked up with Lyon in 2015 and has since made 50 league outings for the seven-time Ligue 1 champions. But he has many fond memories from his time at United – especially the days when the manager failed to tell him and his twin apart.
“Was there ever a time when Ferguson got us confused? It happened many, many times,” he laughs in the – out now.
“It wasn’t rare that before training he’d look at me and say: ‘Come on, go to the left wing.’ When that happened, I used to just look at him. Then he’d go: ‘I meant right wing, Rafael!’ It’s funny to remember it – Fergie is a special person in my life.
“He’s the best manager I’ve ever worked with, no doubt. I learned so many things from him and I will be grateful for that forever. He’d always have some good advice to tell you at training. He knew exactly how to deal with each of his players – ones who’d improve with some compliments and motivation, and ones he’d need to be severe with. That, plus his knowledge of the game, made him the best.”
The 27-year-old won three Premier League titles, two League Cups and the FIFA Club World Cup during his United career, starting the 2008 final in Japan. And he is optimistic that both his former and current clubs can mount title tilts this term.
“I was very happy [at United] and grew up both as a man and as a player, too,” Rafael says. “I feel confident after the signings they’ve made – I hope they will become Premier League champions this season.
“Lyon are going in the right direction to become champions again. The squad has a good mix of talented young stars and some experienced players. With Fergie I learned that’s key in building a successful team.”