Hailing from the sunny climes of Rio de Janeiro, Rafael and Fabio Da Silva have both enjoyed a successful start to their Manchester United careers, having been spotted by United scout, Les Kershaw, six years ago.
Noticed whilst starring for a Fluminese youth side during a Nike Cup competition in Tokyo, United signed up the humble and extremely talented twins for £5.2 million just before their 17th birthday and in doing so began their rapid journey to stardom.
United fans, naturally oblivious at first to the potential of the young full backs, had to wait a while to see the first glimpses of their talent as it was not until their 18th birthday that they were able to be fully registered with the club as Manchester United players. However, a year went by and eventually we got to see their youthful exuberance in full flow as they trotted out to make their bow, during a pre-season friendly, against Peterborough United, in the summer of 2008.
Drawing inevitable comparisons to the legendary Neville brothers, who amassed over 650 appearances for the Red Devils, the United faithful were typically excited by the prospect of Rafael and Fabio, who most certainly have the ability to match, or even surpass, Gary and Phil’s legacy.
With this weight of expectation on their shoulders, it was Rafael who first made his competitive start for United, in a League Cup match over Middlesbrough on the 23rd September 2008, having previously come on as a substitute in a league match, against Newcastle, a month earlier.
Despite being touted as the more talented sibling, Fabio didn’t make his league debut until the 16th August 2009, after his 08/09 season was marred by a shoulder injury, which needed surgery, and the form of United’s first choice left-back, Patrice Evra.
This meant that Fabio played 31 games less than Rafael in his first two seasons because whereas Rafael was getting game time due to injuries, to Gary Neville and Wes Brown, Fabio was having to fight for a place each week against one of the best left-backs in the world, who hardly ever picks up an injury.
Nonetheless, the twins were both developed very well during their formative years and managed to announce their name on the European stage whilst still only teenagers. Rafael first started in the Champions League, in 2008, away to AaB Aalborg when he looked remarkably comfortable on the ball before Fabio made his Champions League bow a year later, when he started on CSKA Moscow’s artificial pitch and put in an incredibly mature performance.
Blossoming under the expert tutelage of Sir Alex, the twins soon began to rack up the silverware with Rafael picking up a Premier League and Community Shield winners medal in his debut season (08/09), after making 16 League appearances. Winning a League Cup medal the following year, Fabio had to wait until last season to pick up his first piece of Manchester United silverware, when he earned both a Community Shield and Premier League winners medal.
Spot The Difference…
During their time at Old Trafford, the Neville twins racked up an amazing 33 trophies between them for Manchester United, in comparison to the 8 trophies which Rafael and Fabio have so far amassed. These immensely talented Brazilians have some way to go before they emulate the success of their illustrious predecessors but United fans can certainly hope that the twins will surpass this haul and lead United towards another era of unparalleled success.
Nonetheless, on behalf of every single Manchester United fan, I’d like to wish Rafael and Fabio Da Silva a very happy 21st Birthday!
Expect to see some more articles on the Da Silva twins appear on Can They Score in the near future.
Written by Guest Writer, Demi, who you can follow on Twitter here.