Rafael thrilled with his progression
Published 14/12/2012 | 07:59
Manchester United defender Rafael is surprised at how many appearances he has made this season and feels his development has been aided by his twin brother Fabio leaving Old Trafford on loan.
Rafael has played in more first-team games this term for United than any other member of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad, featuring 21 times in all competitions, 20 as part of the starting XI.
"I start every season hoping to make an impression and play a lot of games, but I couldn't have imagined how well this season has gone for me," Rafael told Inside United. "It's been great, and yes, I've been a little surprised to have played so many games. But I'm not a young player any more. I feel like I've developed and I want to play in every single game."
He added: "I've waited a long time for this - getting to this point hasn't happened overnight.
"I've been at this club for five years and that's a long time.
"At first, the goal was to just play one game for Manchester United. Then, when you achieve that, you set other targets.
"Now I want to play every game and become a regular in the team."
Rafael feels maturing as a person has helped him progress on the pitch, with his separation from Fabio - another full-back who can also play in midfield and signed for QPR on a season-long loan in July - an important part of the process.
Asked how he thought he had changed, Rafael joked: "I'm getting old!"
"No, I think this is just a natural development; it's bound to happen when you play more games and have more experiences."