Brazil have produced some legendary wingback pairings over the years, namely the Djalma Santos-Nilton Santos, Leandro-Junior and Cafu-Roberto Carlos combinations. And although Rafael and Fabio have yet to make their first-team debuts at club level, their outstanding performances during the FIFA U-17 World Cup have suggested that they possess the potential to succeed the aforementioned greats in the senior Seleção's No2 and No6 jerseys.
There is, nonetheless, one striking difference between Rafael and Fabio and other wingback duos: they are identical twins. Both right-footed, it is the latter, the Brazil U-17 captain, who patrols the opposite flank. Not that it holds him back, as his three goals in games against New Zealand and Korea DPR will attest.
One man who will have been thrilled by their displays on Korean soil is Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who will have attack-conscious siblings at his disposal from the summer of 2008 after the English giants reached a pre-contract agreement with Fluminense, whom they have supported since childhood.
Chatting exclusively to FIFA.com from Jeju, before they flew out to Goyang for Brazil's final Group B game against England, Rafael and Fabio spoke of their forthcoming move to Manchester United, their excitement at the prospect of playing alongside Anderson and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Premiership's recent Brazilian influx and something their father told them when watching Cafu hold aloft the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy in 2002.
FIFA.com: Where did you watch the 2002 FIFA World Cup
Rafael: We were 11 years old and we watched the game at home with our family and it amazing to see Cafu lift up the trophy. At the time, our father said: 'One day, it will be you two - doing that.' It is a dream of ours. Of course, our first dream is to play for the main national team, but it's going to be really difficult for us to achieve that. But we're training hard to fulfil our dream.
Are you enjoying this tournament?
Fabio: Of course! We have had two big wins over New Zealand and Korea DPR, but we know that it will get harder for us, starting with the game against England. The standard of the teams in this competition is extremely high, but we're confident that we have the ability to win the tournament.
It seems as though you're having a lot of fun together,
what's the spirit like in the Brazil squad?
Rafael: We've been together a long time and we're not like team-mates or friends, but like family. When we score a goal, the coaches and substitutes celebrate a goal as much as the players on the pitch - we're just so happy to be playing in this World Cup.
Fabio: This is probably the last time this squad will be playing together as an U-17 team. The next step up for a World Cup is the U-20s, so it will be a long time before we get the opportunity to play in a tournament like this again. We're all going to be separated at the end of the tournament to go to our clubs and the thought of that makes us a bit sad; so that's why we want to keep on winning - to stay together.
Do you think Lucho is a good coach?
Rafael [ interrupting]: Of course, of course! Lucho hasn't been our coach for a long time, but we think that he's an excellent coach. He gives us a lot of confidence and is helping us to learn more about football. He is so passionate about the team and that inspires us.
Fabio, is it hard to play on the left hand side, when your
right foot is the stronger of the two?
Fabio: No, I am used to it now; I have had plenty of practice...
Rafael [ interrupting and laughing]: You play all over the pitch anyway, it doesn't matter to you!
Moving swiftly on guys, you're joining Manchester
United next summer, are you looking forward to it?
Rafael: We might be going across in January, but we're not sure. We've already started to learn a little bit of English - and yes, we're really looking forward to it. We're also looking forward to playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. We met him - and he said it would be good for us to join the club.
Fabio: Anderson is also playing for the club too, so it will be good to see him. There seem to be a lot of Brazilian players in England now - Lucas is at Liverpool, Geovanni and Elano are at Manchester City, so it will be good to see them when we are in Manchester. I'm sure they'll help us adjust to living in England. But we're going over there to experience it for ourselves and learn more about football too.
Although you are identical twins, what are your
Rafael: Well, facially, I have a few marks around my eyes, so that's the secret of telling us apart.
That's not good for the fans watching you in the
Fabio: Well, he plays on the right - and I play on the left! [They both laugh]
But as people?...
Rafael: We're both very similar - and that's probably why we get on so well! Fabio's more organised than me, but we're typical brothers. We have fun, we love football - and we fight, but only sometimes!