The Scottish manager was famed for his dressing room tirades – but on one occasion he picked the wrong Brazilian
Former Manchester United defender Fabio has revealed he was once inadvertently on the end of one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s legendary ‘hairdryer’ treatments – after the Scot mistook him for his twin brother Rafael.
The 31-year-old admits he and Rafael have grown used to people getting them mixed up and often used to play tricks on United staff during training to confuse them further.
However, things took an unexpected turn when Ferguson launched into one of his dressing room diatribes, only to aim his anger at the wrong player.
What did Fabio say?
Fabio and Rafael joined United from Fluminense in February 2007, though they were unable to play for the club until they turned 18 the following summer.
They would go on to make 226 appearances for the club between them, the majority coming under the management of Ferguson, who retired in 2013.
People would regularly confuse one twin for the other, including a referee on one occasion, while Rafael would sometimes wear Fabio’s wedding ring to further bamboozle team-mates and members of staff.
“When we arrived from Brazil, there was no one who could tell us apart,” Fabio told the Athletic.
“You would arrive for training and, in the space of a few minutes, people would say ‘good morning’ twice. You had already said ‘good morning’ to that same person just a few minutes earlier and now they were saying it again.”
“Then came the misdirected hairdryer.
“I’d plead my innocence and he would get angrier for a second before he realised the entire dressing room was quiet because I was telling the truth,” added Fabio.
“‘Oh, f*cking hell’, he would say, and then everyone would just burst out laughing. Him, too.”
‘Steven Gerrard hated us’
Rafael also revealed that he and his twin brother attracted the ire of former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, though he suspects it was mainly down to the intense rivalry between United and the Merseysiders rather than anything personal.
“Wayne Rooney told us that Steven Gerrard hated us,” said the defender, who now plays for Istanbul Basaksehir.
“He said that Gerrard told him on international duty, ‘Those twins, they are pri*ks!’.
“We never did anything to him but wear a different shade of red. I guess that’s all it takes. And to be honest, I understood what he meant. The feeling was mutual.”
Twins back United title challenge
Though it is several years since they left Old Trafford Fabio and Rafael both still hold the club in high regard.
“Manchester changed our lives,” said Fabio. “We were such young boys when we arrived. They really helped us. That’s why we are so grateful for everything they did for us.”
“The one thing about United is you have that feeling,” added Rafael. “It’s special, they treat you like family: ‘OK, you are one of us now, we are going to do everything to help you’. Even in bad moments, they always trusted us.”
Fabio left United in 2014 to sign for Cardiff, then managed by current Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was also the Brazilian’s reserve team manager at United.
The 31-year-old believes Solskjaer is building something special at Old Trafford and a first Premier League title since Ferguson’s retirement could be on the cards.
“It’s hard for me even to find the right words to describe Ole,” said Fabio. “Honestly, I love the guy. He was the reason I went to Cardiff. He came to my house. ‘You’re going to help us stay up’, he said. I had so much confidence in him.
“It didn’t work out [Cardiff were relegated from the Premier League] but I don’t think they had the team to stay up and it doesn’t change the way I think about him.
“He learned a lot. You can see now that United are starting to be a family again. He’s the right man, he brings everyone together. And next season… champions! Champions! I really believe it. I’m telling you, something fantastic is happening. I can see the team growing these last two years. I’m very confident they can win the title now.”