Reds defender Rafael has been nominated for the prestigious Samba Gold Trophy, awarded to the best Brazilian player in Europe.
The 22-year-old has enjoyed his best 12 months yet in a United shirt and is on a 30-man shortlist for the prize, which will be announced on 31 December.
Fans, top journalists and an expert panel consisting of former players and managers have until 30 December to vote for the winner. Defender Thiago Silva is the reigning holder of the trophy, while Manchester City’s Maicon (then with Internazionale) won the award in 2010.
One of Rafael’s defensive partners at United, Jonny Evans, recently admitted the young Brazilian “sets the tone for the rest of the players” at the club with his energy and enthusiasm.
“He’s a credit to himself,” Evans said. “He’s going to be one of the best right-backs in the world, no doubt about that.”
The players brought some Christmas cheer to local youngsters at two Manchester hospitals on Thursday.
The first-team squad split into two and headed to the Young Oncology Unit at The Christieand the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital armed with hundreds of United goodies ranging from iPads to cuddly toys which had been wrapped by the club’s young players and staff at Carrington.
The Reds’ young fans were over the moon to come face-to-face with their heroes who set about signing and posing for photographs with as many patients and staff members as they could.
“It’s not easy for kids who are in hospital over Christmas and it was nice to be able to put a smile on their faces,” said Wayne Rooney, who visited The Christie with team-mates Tom Cleverley, Jonny Evans and Ryan Giggs. “It was also good to chat to the parents and the doctors and nurses who do so much great work in looking after the children.”
Club photographers John and Matt Peters accompanied the players visiting the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital