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Rio retires: Ferdinand’s five best footballing moments

| 30.05.2015

Former England captain and centre back Rio Ferdinand has called time on a career which saw him become one of the world’s most expensive and decorated defenders, and encompassed stints with Bournemouth, Leeds United, Manchester United, West Ham United and QPR.

So, in celebration of Ferdinand, widely regarded as one of the finest rearguard players of his generation, Coral experts have compiled a list of the silky centre half’s five best moments in football. See which standout accomplishments have made the grade, over 21 tremendous seasons since the defender emerged from the Upton Park ranks…

England v Cameroon (1997): becomes the youngest defender to play for England
When Ferdinand stepped on to the feted Wembley turf for his international debut as a substitute in the Three Lions’ friendly duel with Cameroon, he became the youngest ever defender to represent England (a record which he held until 2006).

Aged just 19 years and eight days at the time, Ferdinand went on to cement a starting spot at centre back for his nation, making 81 appearances, being briefly appointed as captain and making the cut for four World Cup squads.

SOCCER Ferdinand&squad

Leeds United v Deportivo La Coruna (2001): Champions League quarter-final goal
When Leeds were drawn against Spanish champions Deportivo, one of the club’s players reportedly told press that Leeds were the weakest link left in the continental competition.

As club captain, Ferdinand responded with the wise statement “results speak more loudly than people”, and certainly led by example on the pitch, as he grabbed the third goal in a 3-0 first leg thrashing of the Spaniards at Elland Road. The Yorkshire club then went on to reach the semi-finals, their best ever finish in the Champions League.

Manchester United v Liverpool (2006): last minute winner
A last-gasp goal against the Reds at Old Trafford is certainly one of the more memorable reasons Ferdinand is etched into Old Trafford folklore.

In a match where their bitter northwest rivals had dominated, Ferdinand leapt to meet a 90th minute free-kick from Ryan Giggs, and headed past Manuel Reina with aplomb, sealing the three points for his side and sending Gary Neville on a famous sprint down the pitch to celebrate in front of Liverpool fans.

Speaking of the goal, Ferdinand later said: “to score a winner like that, last minute in the Stretford End, you explode. If you could bottle that emotion, you’d be a very rich man. ”

Manchester United v Chelsea (2008): Captaining the Red Devils in a Champions League final
Ferdinand won six Premier League titles with Man Utd (9/2 with Coral to win the 2015/16 Premier League), but his one Champions League triumph must surely be considered the crowning achievement in his glittering career.

In a double-winning season, the defender was named captain in the absence of injured Gary Neville, and wore the armband as the Red Devils duelled with domestic rivals Chelsea in Moscow for the Champions League trophy.

The centre half kept his composure as Man Utd eventually won the frenetic final 6-5 on penalties (after drawing 1-1 following normal and extra time), in the year of the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.

Manchester United v Swansea City (2013): the last goal of the Fergie era
Another honour Ferdinand can lay claim to is scoring the Red Devil’s final goal under Sir Alex Ferguson. The legendary Scottish coach announced his retirement in 2013, with his final game in charge of the reigns against Swansea City at Old Trafford.

It looked as though the Scot would end his 2,131 games in charge of the Manchester club with a draw, after Michu cancelled out Javier Hernandez’s opener, but Ferdinand lashed home a Robin van Persie corner in the 86th minute, ensuring his boss bowed out in style.



Holly Thackeray

Holly is a member of the content team, and can often be found on the sports desk writing about favourite topics Serie A and East Asian footballing nations. A recent darts convert, she is also a fully-fledged member of Barney's Army and a proud Leeds-born Manchester United fan.