Rio Gavin Ferdinand (born 7 November 1978 in Peckham, London) is an English footballer of mixed St Lucian, Dominican and Anglo-Irish descent. He plays at centre-back for Manchester United in the Premier League and at the international level for the England national football team. He has achieved 65 caps for the English national team, while been selected for three FIFA World Cup squads.
Whilst growing up in the rough Peckham, Rio found life hard. His father, Julian Ferdinand emigrated from St. Lucia. His mother, Janice Lavender, is Anglo-Irish. His parents never married, and they broke up when he was young. He has several brothers and sisters from his parents re-marrying. Anton Ferdinand, the West Ham defender, is his brother, while his cousin is former England striker, Les Ferdinand
After initially being scouted at QPR, Ferdinand signed as a schoolboy for West Ham United in 1992 while a student at Blackheath Bluecoat school and became a professional player under their youth system. He made his first team debut on 5 May 1996 as a substitute in 1-1 home draw against Sheffield Wednesday. In the 97-98 season, Ferdinand won the Hammer of the Year award at the young age of just 20.
Ferdinand joined FA Premier League football club Leeds United in November 2000 for £18 million, then a British transfer record, as well as becoming the world's most expensive defender. In August 2001, he became the captain of Leeds.
On 22 July 2002, Ferdinand joined another Premier League club, Manchester United, on a five year deal to become the most expensive British footballer in history, the world's most expensive defender again (a title he had lost in 2001 to Lilian Thuram). The fee included a basic element in the high twenty millions, and some conditional elements, which allowed Leeds to tell their fans that they were selling him for over thirty million. Leeds later took a single payment in place of all the contingent elements when they were desperate for cash during their financial crisis. The final book value of Ferdinand's contract in Manchester United's accounts was £33 million. This included agents' fees, with Leeds receiving £30.72 million.
Ferdinand went on to win the Premier League championship with Manchester United in his first season. He has also collected a winner's medal in the League Cup (2006) and runners-up medals in the League Cup (2003) and the FA Cup (2005).
Before 14 December 2005, he had never scored a goal for United, despite Ferdinand coming up for nearly every corner kick and attacking free-kick. It was only against Wigan Athletic, where he finally scored, en-route to a 4-0 victory over their opponents. He followed this up with a powerfully headed goal against West Bromwich Albion. He then scored a last minute winner against Liverpool at Old Trafford, possibly his most important Manchester United goal to date. In the corresponding fixture in the following season on 22 October 2006, Rio scored again in a 2-0 victory. Ferdinand and his brother held an informal competition on how many goals they could score during the 2005-06 season (neither being prolific goal scorers), which Rio won 3-2.
Following impressive and consistent performances in the league, Rio Ferdinand was named in the 2006/07 PFA Premiership Team of the Season alongside seven of his fellow Manchester United teammates.
Ferdinand started the 07-08 season well, he was part of a United defence that managed to keep 6 clean sheets in a row in the Premier League, before conceding an early goal to Aston Villa at Villa Park on 20 October 2007. It was also during this game where Ferdinand scored his first goal of the season, which was United's 3rd goal of that game, with a left foot strike which took a deflection off one of the Villa defenders. Just 3 days later, Ferdinand scored his first European goal for United by opening the scoring against Dynamo Kyiv, with a superb header. United dominated the game and won 4-2.
On 12 January 2008 Ferdinand bagged a rare Premier League goal in a 6-0 hammering of Newcastle United at Old Trafford
Ferdinand earned his full England cap as a substitute in a friendly against Cameroon on 15 November 1997 making him the youngest defender to play for England at 19 years and 8 Days old, a record broken in 2006 by Micah Richards. At the age of 20, he was selected for the 1998 FIFA World Cup squad as a back-up defender, but was excluded from the final squad by manager Glenn Hoddle after bring charged with drink-driving. Ferdinand learnt from his mistake and was selected as a first choice player at the 2002 and 2006 tournaments. Ferdinand has played ten World Cup matches for England, the team in these games have kept seven clean sheets and conceded just four goals whilst he was on the pitch (he was substituted before Henrik Larsson scored for Sweden in the 2006 World Cup).
The Duran Duran song "Rio" has been used in football chants both for and against Ferdinand; in fact in 2002, fan Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran's lead singer) promised to re-record one of the football chants if the team won. (They did not.)
Ferdinand has scored two goals for England, the first in the 2002 World Cup 2nd Round match against Denmark. However, some statisticians dispute this, suggesting it was actually an own goal by Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen. The other was a near post strike from the Manchester United defender, beating the Russian goalkeeper in the 2008 European Championship Qualifying match against Russia on 12th September 2007 at the Wembley stadium.
In June 2006, on the day of the England national team's opening World Cup group match against Paraguay, Ferdinand made his debut appearance as a television presenter. Hosting 'Rio's World Cup Wind-Ups,' the England defender found himself in a Jeremy Beadle style role, playing tricks on his fellow England World Cup squad members including David Beckham. A follow-up series was planned, entitled 'Rio's All-Star Wind-Ups', however this was cancelled following a number of filming disasters.
It is also reported that Ferdinand is presently filming a documentary about the murder of schoolboy Damilola Taylor. Ferdinand grew up close to the estate where the 10-year-old was killed in 2000. The programme is the first in a series to be fronted by Ferdinand to persuade youngsters away from a life of crime.
Missed drug test
In 2003 he failed to attend a drugs test, claiming he had forgotten because he was preoccupied with moving houses and instead went shopping. The FA Disciplinary Committee chaired by Barry Bright imposed an eight month ban from January 2004 at club and international level and a £50,000 fine, meaning he would miss the rest of the league season and some of the next along with all of Euro 2004 . Manchester United appealed against the verdict and sought to draw parallels to the case of Manchester City player Christian Negouai, who was fined £2,000 for missing a test. However, FIFA president Sepp Blatter stated that such comparisons are inappropriate due to differences between the two cases. Negouai had been stuck in traffic and was willing to take the test, while Ferdinand was charged with "failure or refusal" to attend the test. Both the FA and FIFA sought to have the ban increased to 12 months (half the possible maximum). In the end, the original verdict was upheld.
John Terry replaced Ferdinand in the England side until his return on 9 October 2004 in their World Cup qualifier against Wales.
Ferdinand has committed a string of driving offences and has been banned from driving on four separate occasions. In one instance he was caught driving at 105mph. Most famously he was convicted of drunk driving in 1997, forcing England manager Glenn Hoddle to drop him from a World Cup qualifier that would have been his international debut.
In October 2006, Ferdinand caused controversy by calling BBC Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles a 'faggot' live on air, just days after team-mate Paul Scholes was also in trouble for an alleged homophobic remark about him being gay with a funny hair do. Moyles jokingly asked Ferdinand: "If you had to, who would you rather go out with - Smudger or Scholesy?" referring to Alan Smith and Paul Scholes. Ferdinand replied: "That is not my bag that, that is not my game, talking about going out with geezers" and when Moyles suggested he would always prefer Smith, Ferdinand declared: "You’re a faggot." He quickly apologised for what he had said, stating "I'm not homophobic.
In 2006 in Manchester, Ferdinand's girlfriend Rebecca Ellison gave birth to son their Lorenz. In Las Vegas, Rio Ferdinand proposed to Ellison in July 2007.