Former Manchester United star Rafael Da Silva has revealed he didn’t know how popular he was at the club until he left Old Trafford.
The Brazilian right-back spent seven years at United after joining from Fluminense along with his brother Fabio.
After a decent stint at the club, Rafael left for Lyon in 2015 where he has now established himself as a regular in their starting XI.
He never really made the right-back role his own at United but his popularity level among the fans was particularly high as he became something of a cult hero.
However, he admitted he never knew exactly how popular he was until he departed.
‘I did not know that I was so popular, right until I left,’ he told L’Equipe.
‘I have never received so many letters and messages.’
Rafael suffered 27 injuries during his time with United, which stunted his progress severely.
‘It was never the same thing,’ he added.
Rafael Man United honours
Premier League titles: 3
League Cups: 2
FIFA Club World Cups: 1
Community Shields: 3
‘The two shoulders, the temple, the jaw, the knees. Everything.
‘Each time you picked up form and a bit of confidence.
‘Each time you would have to fight to come back.’
While he often struggled with various injuries, Rafael has wonderful memories of his time at United and he recalled his enjoyment of featuring in fierce clashes with Liverpool.
‘The matches against Liverpool you had to play in,’ he said.
‘I had always liked those, they were my favourite games.
‘At Anfield, it was such a cauldron, so good.
‘But when I watch the videos back, I say to myself that I was crazy.’