Rafael Da Silva says Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to retire as Manchester United manager in 2013 cost him his chance to have a successful career at Old Trafford.
The Brazilian right-back recently moved to Ligue 1 outfit Lyon after falling out of favour with current manager Louis van Gaal.
In a deal worth only £2.5million, Rafael finished his seven-year association with the Red Devils and completed what could be considered a dramatic two-year decline in his reputation.
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Rewind to the 2012/13 season and you will find a young, exciting defender who was being tipped to fill the gigantic shoes left by Gary Neville. Rafael played 28 of United's 38 Premier League games, helping them win their last title.
The subsequent two seasons saw the 25-year-old move to the periphery of the squad with both David Moyes and Van Gaal failing to see the value that Ferguson once saw in him. Rafael calls Ferguson's departure a "fatal" move.
"And that’s when they changed the manager. That change was fatal for me. I was going well, then Ferguson left"
In an interview in Globo Esporte, he said: "I did the complete season, when he (Ferguson) left. In 2012-13 I played almost every game, it was my best season at United, we were even champions.
"And that’s when they changed the manager. That change was fatal for me. I was going well, then Ferguson left.
"That’s what changed, so Valencia started playing as a right-back for Van Gaal. He’s also a great player, but I was doing well in that position.
"Ferguson even called to wish me good luck. I had a very good relationship with him, he helped me a lot in Manchester, and always did everything to help me. He signed me when I was 16, I don’t even know what to say."
Unsurprisingly, Rafael was openly ready to admit that he did not share the same strong relationship with the current Old Trafford boss Van Gaal. In fact, the Brazilian claims it was very much the opposite with the Dutchman actively disliking him.
However, Rafael refused to add to the growing evidence that Van Gaal has a natural dislike for Brazilian football players.
"I know that he didn’t like me, but if that’s because I'm Brazilian, I don't know"
On Van Gaal's apparent dislike for Brazilians, Rafael said: "I don’t know, sincerely. I don’t know what to say about that, because I was the only one, since Anderson left before.
"I know this history that he doesn’t like Brazilians, but I can't say: 'Oh, he doesn’t like Brazilians'.
"I know that he didn’t like me, but if that’s because I'm Brazilian, I don't know."
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