Rafael Recalls How Sir Alex Ferguson Would Often Confuse Him With Twin Brother Fabio
Ex-Manchester United defender Rafael da Silva has recounted an amusing story about how legendary Old Trafford boss Sir Alex Ferguson would often confuse the Brazilian right-back with his identical twin brother, Fabio, at training.
"It happened many, many times," the 27-year-old explained, in quotes published by the Manchester Evening News.
"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."
Having originally been spotted by United as 15-year-olds playing for Fluminense's youth team, Rafael and Fabio arrived in England in the summer of 2008 as once they had turned 18.
Rafael soon made an impact, capitalising on the opportunity to play at right-back as a result of injuries to Gary Neville and Wes Brown. He featured 28 times in total during that debut season, scoring a fine first United goal against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Fabio, meanwhile, struggled for fitness and had the immovable Patrice Evra ahead of him in the pecking order over on the left-hand side of the pitch.
Rafael enjoyed his best United season in Ferguson's final year in charge, playing 40 times in all competitions, scoring three times and receiving a third Premier League winner's medal. And he still considers the Scot to be the 'best' manager he's had the privilege to play for.
"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," Rafael, who left United for Lyon in 2015, recalled.
"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."
Fabio didn't play at all in the Premier League until his second season with United, while he spent the 2012/13 campaign on loan with QPR and so therefore received only one Premier League medal during his time at Old Trafford.
He did, however, start the 2011 Champions League final against Barcelona, eventually leaving United permanently for Cardiff in 2014 and has played for Middlesbrough since 2016.