‘First it was a Portuguese greeting,’ Fabio told the Daily Mail, recounting the story behind his decision to sign for Man Utd.
‘Then the voice says: ‘It is Cristiano Ronaldo.’ I think it is a joke but he says: ‘No, it is Cristiano here. I’m calling you to tell you to come to United. I can help you guys so you need to come. You’re going to enjoy.’
‘Sir Alex Ferguson must have known about Arsenal. This was his way of making sure we came to Manchester. It worked.’
The pair, ultimately, were teammates with Ronaldo for little over a season-and-a-half but the influence the five-times Ballon d’Or winner had on their respective careers was lasting.
‘He did extraordinary things and we gained our own confidence from that,’ said Rafael.
‘He is my hero, the best,’ added Fabio. ‘He helped me a lot, saying: ‘Don’t worry, just play. Calm, cool. I will be here for you.’
‘That meant so much and, of course, his talent is something I’ve never seen in my life.
‘I love him because he set a very big example for young boys like us. That is what he will do for the players this second time.
‘The things I took from Cristiano are for life. The players about to play with him now at United should be thankful every day.’
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