Manchester United right back Rafael is delighted with the progress he has made in 2012 and believes he has matured in the process, the Daily Mail reports.

The 22-year-old Brazilian has enjoyed the best spell of his United career so far during the last year and has become a first team regular for Sir Alex Ferguson, having started every league game bar two this season.

Rafael told the club’s website: “It’s been a great year for me. I feel like I have grown up a lot and that I am maturing.”

“My daughter was born this year, which has helped me a lot in that way, and on the pitch I have been able to play a lot of games.”

“So I’ve had a lot of good moments, not just in football, but in life this year.”

‘I feel more experienced and like I am growing as a player and a person.”

He arrived at old Trafford in 2008 with brother Fabio, who is currently on loan at QPR. He has endured spells in and out of the side and often been criticised for being too attack minded while lacking defensive ability.

He was handed the chance to make the right back position his own this season and has taken advantage of injuries to players such as Phil Jones and Chris smalling who are also adept at playing the position.

Those players have now returned to fitness so Rafael will face a battle to continue his run in the side with added competition for places.

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