Who is Man United legend Rio Ferdinand?

Rio Gavin Ferdinand, who was born on 7 November 1978 in Camberwell, is an English former professional football player who played as a defender for the Premier League club Man United.

Rio began his football career playing for many youth teams, finally settling at West Ham United, where the defender progressed through the youth sides and played his debut game in the Premier League in 1996.

Ferdinand’s achievements and footballing potential attracted Leeds United, and the centre-back transferred to the Elland Road for a record-breaking fee of £18m.

Rio spent two campaigns at Leeds United, becoming the club captain in 2001, before the defender joined Man United in summer 2002 for nearly £30m, breaking the transfer fee record once more.

At Old Trafford, Ferdinand won the Premier League, his first major club honour, in a triumphant first campaign. Rio established himself in the Red Devils first team and received plaudits for his displays, featuring in the PFA Team of the Year 4 times in 5 years.

More club success followed another Premier League victory in the 2006–07 campaign and a Premier League and Champions League double the next year.

His career at the Theatre of Dreams, in which Ferdinand won six Premier League trophies and 14 titles, ended when his deal expired in 2014. The English centre-back announced his retirement from professional football in May 2015.

Rio Ferdinand’s international career

Rio was capped 81 times for the Three Lions, making him the national team’s second most capped black footballer behind Ashley Cole with 107.

Although Rio was named in four consecutive Three Lions World Cup teams (albeit without playing in 1998 and missing 2010 through injury), the defender never went to the UEFA Euro tournament due to a ban for missing a drugs test, according to a report and because of England’s failure to qualify for UEFA Euro 2008.

Rio scored three goals for the Three Lions, the first in the 2002 Mundial second-round game with Denmark. The second was a strike that beat Vyacheslav Malafeev in the Three Lions’ Euro 2008 qualifier with Russia in September 2007 at Wembley Stadium.

The third was in October 2008 in a 2010 Mundial qualifying game at home to Kazakhstan. At the age of just 19 years and eight days, Rio earned his first full Three Lions cap as a substitute in a friendly game with Cameroon in November 1997, making him the youngest centre-back to play for the Three Lions at the time (a record broken in 2006 by Micah Richards).

In March 2008, it was announced that Rio would wear the captain’s armband for Fabio Capello’s second match in charge of England. In May 2013, the English centre-back announced his retirement from international football.