Rafael recalls how Ferdinand would make Cristiano Ronaldo defend for Man Utd

Former Manchester United right-back Rafael da Silva says Rio Ferdinand was the best defender he played with at Old Trafford, and has recalled how the Englishman would stand up to Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch.

Rafael arrived at United with his twin brother Fabio in 2008, ensuring that he spent one year with Ronaldo in the first-team at Old Trafford as he made 28 appearances for the club in the 2008/09 season.

That was Ronaldo's last at United before he left for Real Madrid, and Rafael says Ferdinand's influence on the defensive side of his game was crucial.

"Rio Ferdinand is the best defender I played with, by far. I tell you, by far. By far he’s the best defender I played with," the 29-year-old, now of Lyon, told ESPN.

"He was a good leader. For me a centre-back has got to be a leader.

"So many times I saw, when I arrived at Manchester United, I saw Rio – Ronaldo was one of the best already – I saw Rio just saying, 'Come back! Come back!'

"You know like he shouted with him. But he spoke with everybody.

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