Date: 9th February 2011 at 10:35am
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Having retired just last week, ’s presence can still be felt at the club.

The finest right back the club has seen in recent memory and possibly ever made the position his own when he was still so it is only right that he co signs the youngster that is the heir apparent to his throne at right back.

’s performances this season have been remarkable as we have seen the defensive side of his game develop to match the offensive side. He isn’t as rash as he once was and this has lead to him making the right back spot his.

Neville spoke on the young Brazilian and his performances of late to the club’s website saying:

“He’s more than capable of going on to become ’s right-back for many, many years. His performances in the last six months in particular have been brilliant. He’s matured and really come of age. I remember when I was young defender you need that time to mature and get experience. Rafael’s always had ability – he gets to the ball quickly, he’s aggressive, he defends his position well, he’s tough, courageous, good on the ball and provides energy in attack, but he’s really developed in the last six months with games and experience. He has a great attitude too.”

In recent times we haven’t had a certified right back with the position being rotated between Neville, Brown, O’Shea and Rafa but the Brazilian’s emergence leads Neville to believe that the position and thus the back four will be settled for years to come,

“I’ve been around and Wes and Sheasy have played some games as well as Rafael, but in the last four or five months we’ve had a consistent performer in that position. Now you can say we’ve got a first-choice back four for the first time in a few years with Rafael, Rio, Vida and Patrice, who are all quality players. That’s important to a team.”