Club: Manchester United
Position: Left Back
Date of Birth: July 9th 1990
Place of Birth: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Previous Club(s): Fluminense
Some of this might be familiar to you….For a decade and more, Manchester United had the Neville brothers at full-back. For the next decade and more, expect to see the Da Silva brothers in the same positions. They’re not just brothers though – they’re identical twins, and supremely talented.
United had the duo tied up some years before they eventually came to Old Trafford, as Brazilian transfer rules prevent players under the age of 18 moving abroad. This somewhat stunted their development, as understandably, Fluminense were reluctant to play and aid the development of players they were ultimately about to lose. Thus, instead of cracking on through the club’s ranks, they stagnated, and were only able to impress at international youth level.
Some six months before they could officially sign, they headed to England to acclimatise, and work their way into Sir Alex Ferguson’s plans. Fábio plays on the left side of the pitch, predominantly at left-back, but on occasion in a more advanced role. He has the same endless energy as his brother, great pace, composure – the two are almost as identical on the pitch as they are physically. Fábio has often been rated as the greatest talent of the two – even by Rafael’s admission – and his attacking displays result in an extraordinary number of goals for a player who most often does indeed play in defence.
Patrice Evra has United’s left-back slot tied down for the near future, but Fábio can give the club something they don’t have – an unpredictable, incredibly dangerous threat from any time down the left wing. Or, right, if you prefer, as Fábio is naturally right-footed. Given that, don’t be surprised to see Ferguson use him in multiple positions in defence or midfield as he develops, because he can certainly do a job almost anywhere. At his age, that’s quite some feat.
Fábio’s first season in England has been frustrating, as injury has meant he has had to watch his brother make strides into the United first team. Fábio had a stunning pre-season, making first-team appearances, and two stunning goals for the Reserves against Northwich and Chelsea before suffering a seperated shoulder in the match against the Blues, requiring surgery. It ruled him out of the first half of the season, but upon his return he wasted little time, slotting straight into the first team for their FA Cup clash against Tottenham. He put in a fantastic debut appearance, but suffered another injury, sidelining his progress further.
Upon returning in February, he went on a scoring rampage for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Reserves, including a hat-trick in the LSC against Rochdale. He even found time to miss a penalty in the same match.