Now age has mellowed Rafael, the Brazilian insists it is his turn to lead by example in Manchester United’s dressing room as the next generation of talent make their mark.
The marauding full-back, still only 22-years-old, added a third title to his trophy cabinet after the Red Devils wrenched the Premier League back from Manchester City last season.
Rafael played more times than ever before in 2012/13 – totting up 37 appearances and three goals – and believes in the next couple of years, United’s young guns will reach their peak.
“I always try to start helping the young players – you get mature and get older and you can’t be young forever,” Rafael told manutd.com.
“Of course, I enjoy it – even when I have not been at the same age as now, I always try and help.
“I know how hard it is to get into the first-team. I know it’s very difficult and you need some help so I always try my best to help everyone.
“If you see all the players now, we are starting to get mature. We were young – me, Jones, Chris Smalling, David De Gea, Danny Welbeck – we were all young.
“Now we are getting to the age of 24 or 25 and that’s a good age. We need to improve every day.”
One United youngster Rafael has missed is twin brother Fabio, who spent a year on-loan to relegated Queens Park Rangers.
The pair have been inseparable for much of their lives and the right-back hopes his sibling still has a big future by his side at Old Trafford.
“It’s funny as maybe we’ll forget how it was to be together so it could all be a little bit strange,” Rafael added.
“He played many games at Queens Park Rangers and I think he gained good experience there.
“I hope he stays with us next year.”
Image courtesy of Sky Sports, via YouTube, with thanks.