While the Brazilians at Manchester United these days tend to be on the bench, there was a time when one of them was a regular in defence: Rafael.
Arriving at the club with his brother, Fabio, the right-back quickly ended up in the starting line up due to injuries to Gary Neville, Wes Brown and John O’Shea.
The now 28-year-old stayed at Old Trafford for seven years, making 170 appearances, 114 more than his twin, who stayed there for six.
As they revealed to L’Equipe‘s magazine in a lengthy joint interview this month, this difference in game time was difficult for Fabio, who was used to being the ‘better’ of the two when they were growing up.
Rafael explained: “It’s complicated when you’re twins and one of you isn’t reaching his targets. Even if I was playing, I was sad for him. It was complicated.”
Asked if his brother’s success helped or demoralised him, Fabio replied: “It was a mixture of both. When were young, I was ‘the star’, but at Manchester United, that flipped completely. That affected me. I didn’t lose confidence because of his success, but psychologically, it destabilised me.”
Rafael never gave up on his brother, constantly ‘shaking him’ to try and help him snap out of it, for which his twin is grateful as it’s what helped him ‘never give up’.
After all the pair were living the dream, having joined the club at the age of 16 from Fluminense, a moment which they remember ‘like it was yesterday’.
Rafael said: “When we signed, it was amazing. The whole family was in the office. Everyone was crying. At the time, the contract was in pounds, which was worth six to seven times the Brazilian real. It was huge.
“The year after, our dad stopped working. At the age of 16-17, we managed to take care of our parents. It was a dream.”
There’s a reason why these two managed to melt the hearts of many Manchester United fans during their time there.
It’s not everyday twins get to play at the same club, and even now, while they might not always be together, they’re in the same country, in the same league, with Rafael at Lyon and Fabio at Nantes.
As for what they want to do in the future, they explained it’s their dream to once again play together at club level.
Fabio has a plan: “We’re Botafogo fans since we were kids. It would be great to finish our career together, in the club dearest to our father’s heart.”
Whoever is cutting onions, we’re kindly asking you to stop.