The Holland international midfielder joined us from Real Madrid on transfer deadline day, September, 2010.
He was thrust straight into Harry Redknapp's side to make his debut in our 1-1 draw at West Brom 10 days later.
In his third game for the Club he found the net for the first time, from the penalty spot in a 3-1 win over Wolves at the Lane.
Cue an incredible run of goalscoring form that would see Rafa, usually playing just off a main striker, score in each of his next five appearances at his new home, instantly installing him as a firm favourite amongst fans.
Rafa was instrumental in two landmark wins in the Premier League in 2010-11. Firstly, he set-up two goals and scored once as we came from 2-0 down to beat Arsenal 3-2 and clinch our first win at the Emirates. He later scored another two against the Gunners in the 3-3 draw at the Lane.
He then hit a lovely, dipping volley to send us on the way to a 2-1 win at Liverpool - our first league win at Anfield since 1993.
That was his 15th and final goal of a memorable campaign that left many pundits describing Rafa as the signing of the season.
He capped it all by being shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Season Award by his peers.
Rafael came through the ranks at Ajax and won two league titles and a Dutch Super Cup during 141 appearances with the Eredivisie side, scoring 60 goals before leaving for Hamburg in the summer of 2005.
An attack-minded midfielder, he was the Bundesliga side's leading scorer in his first season in Germany before the club lifted the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2005.
He made a total of 111 appeances for Hamburg and went on to captain the club before joining Real ahead of the 2008/09 campaign.
There he spent two seasons, winning the Spanish Super Cup shortly after arriving at the Bernabeu, and making 71 appearances in total.
Rafael has been capped over 80 times by his country since making his international debut against Andorra in 2001 at the age of 18.
He has represented the Netherlands at two European Championships and two World Cups, including the 2010 Finals in South Africa where he featured five times in the side's run to the Final.
Earlier in his career, Rafael represented Holland at Under-16 through to Under-21 level.