Manchester United defender Rafael surprised by his progress at Old Trafford
Manchester United defender Rafael says he has been surprised by the number of appearances he has made this season.
Last Updated: 14/12/12 9:39am
The Brazilian right-back has played in more first-team games this term than any other member of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad, featuring 21 times in all competitions.
He has been a key figure in United's climb to the top of the Premier League and their qualification for the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League.
But the 22-year-old, who joined United from Fluminense in 2008, admits he is exceeding his own pre-season expectations.
"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 becoming a father has helped him progress on the pitch and also believes he has benefited from his twin brother Fabio leaving Old Trafford for QPR on a season-long loan.
"I think splitting from Fabio has been a good experience," said Rafael.
"At first I was sad, but I've come to see that it's made me grow up a lot. I've had to change and be more responsible."
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