Rio Ferdinand Bio - Biography

Name Rio Ferdinand
Height 6' 2
Naionality United Kingdom
Date of Birth 7 November 1978
Place of Birth Peckham, London, England, UK
Famous for
Ferdinand has overcome numerous off-field problems to earn his status as one of the most composed central defenders in the game. The London-born player endured a torrid period including a drugs ban, a contract dispute and injury. But United's rock is still viewed as one of the best around.

Rio began his career with West Ham United, nurtured by Harry Redknapp and making his debut in a 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of the 1995-96 season. He is a supremely elegant footballer who defends with intelligence and guile, but also uses the ball when possession is gained and made his England debut in 1998, coming on a substitute in a friendly against Cameroon.

A host of clubs, including Real Madrid and Barcelona, had been chasing the centre-back, but in the end it was Leeds who produced the cheque book to seal an £18m deal in November 2000 - a world record fee for a defender.

Ferdinand, who also spent two months on loan at AFC Bournemouth during his formative years, played 158 games for the Hammers, scoring twice and was part of the Leeds side which produced miracles in Europe, reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2000-01. Although the club's dream of becoming one of Europe's best would end in financial failure and Rio's departure.

At the 2002 World Cup he emerged as a truly world class defender, even if the FIFA selection panel mysteriously rated central defensive partner Sol Campbell higher.

With the Leeds plc demanding cash must come into the club through transfers, it always seemed likely Ferdinand would move on. Leeds battled hard, desperate to keep their skipper at Elland Road, but in mid-July 2002 he handed in a transfer request. And, although it was turned down, within days he would move for £29.3mm, rising to £33.3m, signing a five-year contract at Old Trafford.

After a slow start he was desperate to silence the critics in the 2003-04 campaign but following the Premiership showdown with Arsenal, Ferdinand failed to attend a random drugs test at the club's training ground. The news broke on the day the England squad was due to be announced for the crucial Euro 2004 showdown in Turkey. It led to protests from the rest of the squad - and an alleged threat of a strike - over the way it had been handled.

The game was played, without Rio, who was subsequently banned from representing England while the case ran its course. Ferdinand was banned for eight months. Manchester United continued to play Ferdinand during the probe and his decision to appeal meant his eight-month ban did not start until January 20, 2004, running until September 20 - ruling him out of the Euro 2004 finals and the start of the 2004-05 season.

Sir Alex Ferguson claimed the loss of Ferdinand was the main reason United lost their Premiership crown to Arsenal in 2003-04. But Ferdinand returned from his enforced hiatus in the Premiership grudge match with Liverpool.

More controversy wasn't far away. Towards the end of the 2004-05 campaign, which was a trophyless one for United, Ferdinand began to stall on a new contract. With the player looking for a reported £100,000-a-week, many United fans were angered by his stance. And in the club's pre-season programme for 2005-06 he was booed, before he finally signed a new four-year contract just before the start of the season.

The 2006-07 season was perhaps his most consistent season as a Manchester United player, as the Red Devils lifted the Premier League title after a gap of four years. He followed that with the Premier League and Champions League double in 2007-08 in another season of impressive performances.

And the following season, won another Premier League title - including a British Football League-record run of 14 consecutive clean sheets in Premier League matches - cementing his reputation as one of the finest defenders in the game.

Rio Ferdinand Photos