Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has praised the "maturity" shown by Rafael Da Silva.
The Old Trafford boss revealed Manchester United are now reaping the rewards of throwing Rafael in at the deep end, and although the Brazilian fullback was error prone in his early days, Ferguson feels he's now developing into a first-class defender.
Rafael arrived, along with his twin brother Fabio, at Manchester United as an 18-year-old in 2008, having been scouted when playing in a Hong Kong youth tournament.
The Brazilian made rapid progress in his debut campaign, and was fast-tracked into the United first-team. But a series of high-profile mistakes, including a red card in the Champions League against Bayern Munich, tempered his progress.
Still, Rafael's game has been one of gradual improvement, and the former-Fluminense fullback has been superb this season.
And Ferguson paid tribute to Rafael's steady improvement after the 1-0 victory over West Ham this week.
"Rafael came into the team at 18 and made a lot of mistakes," said the United boss as reported by the Independent. "He was very rash.
"But we invested in him for our future and he is showing that maturity now."
Rafael's Manchester United teammate Jonny Evans also hailed the recent performances of his Brazil international teammate.
"Rafael has been outstanding all season," said the Northern Ireland international. "He has had to play there quite a lot because there has not been anyone else challenging in that position but his energy at right-back is really good.
"He really sets the tone and is a credit to himself.
"Everyone probably thought it would be a bit tough for him with his brother going away but he has got his head down and worked really hard.
"He is one of the best right-backs in the world."
Despite Rafael's excellent form, Manchester United have struggled to keep clean sheets this season - West Ham was only their fourth of the season.
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