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Rafael names one player who “could have been the best” if it hadn’t been for McDonald’s

Former Manchester United defender Rafael da Silva believes compatriot Anderson “could have been the best in the world” had it not been for unhealthy eating habits.

Anderson, 33, joined Sir Alex Ferguson’s team in 2007 as a precocious talent from Porto, but the Brazilian ultimately failed to achieve the potential that earned him the Golden Boy as best player under 21 in Europe in 2008, an award won by players like Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Kylian Mbappe and most recently Erling Haaland.

Anderson’s career has been marked by his first campaign at Old Trafford, winning a Premier League and Champions League double and playing 38 games in all competitions in 2007-08, most of what he was in for Man Utd in a single season would make his eight-year stay.

CONTINUE READING: Where are you now? All previous Golden Boy winners

Last September, a then 32-year-old Anderson retired and hung his boots with a glittering trophy cabinet containing a Copa America with Brazil as well as four Premier League titles and the aforementioned Champions League medal. but there will always be a lingering “what if” feeling.

According to Rafael da Silva, who played 170 games for Man Utd, Anderson had the skill to be one of the greatest footballers in the world, but bad luck with injuries and a penchant for cheeseburgers cost the Brazilian his way to Ballon d’Or fame.

In an excerpt from his new joint autobiography with twin brother Fabio – The sunshine children – Rafael commented, “We could sit on the team bus and pass the services on the freeway and Anderson would jump up impulsively and shout ‘McDonald’s, McDonald’s’.

“The guy was crazy, but I love him.

“Give him a soccer ball and he would just play with freedom and sometimes when he had a good playing time he could play as well as any other player in the league.

“Not only that, but when he played well we played brilliant football. He suffered many major injuries and then his eating problems, like he did, began to affect him.

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“It was no coincidence that his best form came when he had a lot of games because then he couldn’t eat that much. I’m going to say something about Anderson – if he had been a professional soccer player he could have been the best in the world.

“I say this in all seriousness. I don’t know if he ever took anything seriously. He loved life in such a simple and casual way.

“In a way, that was a quality. This is what made him so popular and one of the club’s most popular players.

“But he would just eat whatever was put in front of him.”

“I played through injuries for him”

Anderson’s time in northwest England was certainly marked by ongoing injury problems, but the former midfielder maestro admitted he could get through the rush for Ferguson, whom he once dubbed “the god of football”.

“He’s the god of football,” said Anderson ESPN by Ferguson in 2018.

“I played through injuries for him and stayed on when my legs were cut. He looked after the players so well. I felt like he took care of me.

“I can’t thank this man enough for what he did for me. He trusted me in big games when I was 18. “

After his stint at Old Trafford, Anderson began a life as a bird catcher, working at Fiorentina (on loan from Man Utd), Internacional in his hometown of Porto Alegre, Coritiba and Adana Demirspor in Turkey before retiring in September 2020.

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