Rio Five Star: The Biography
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Rio Ferdinand established himself as one of the world's top; defenders. He burst on to the pitch at the young age of seventeen, when he made his first-team debut for West Ham, playing alongside other budding talents Frank Lampard and Joe Cole. During his time with the Hammers, the young Ferdinand was honoured to be compared to 1966 World Cup hero Sir Booby Moore, and it wasn't long before he himself was picked to represent England.
His performances on the world stage transformed Ferdinand from an emerging force to a fully accomplished international football star. As his reputation soared, so too did his value on the transfer market, and in the summer of 2002 Manchester United signed him for a world-record fee for a defensive player.
The path to footballing glory hasn't always been smooth: when he was a young boy his schoolmate Stephen Lawrence was murdered, while in later years his reputation was dented by drink-driving shame and an outrageous holiday in Cyprus. And in 2004 his career faced the ultimate test – having missed a routine drugs test, Ferdinand was banned from professional football for eight months.
Yet he came back stronger than ever, becoming a defensive lynchpin at both club and international level. A crucial member of the team, Rio as a player was both controlled and calm in even the most heated of games, while his pace, organisational skills and reading of the game made him one of the strongest team players.
This searching biography, described by the Sunday Times on its publication as 'the most exciting sports biography of the year', has been fully revised and updated to take account of Ferdinand's life and career since he retired from professional football. It paints a portrait, not always uncritical, of an extraordinary footballer, but also an extraordinary man who shook up the world of sport and, in his work for charity and as an informed commentator, continues to do so. In doing so, it covers the highs and lows of an illustrious career, revealing all about Ferdinand's extraordinary talent, dedication and ambition.
defend as well. Rio’s career was about to switch direction in a very dramatic fashion. On 1 August 1995 Rio signed his first playing contract with West Ham on the Upton Park pitch in front of a crowd of 25,000 waiting for the kick-off of the first Premiership game of the season. Janice was there to see the proud moment, and says: ‘It was really emotional. I thought back to all those times we had been shopping for football boots.’ Rio signed with West Ham under their Youth Training Scheme. As
writers soon picked up on the Rio phenomenon. Typical was Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph: ‘A new wave promises to race in across the familiar shore. Come the season’s climax, when West Ham visit Manchester United, two of the tyros on view could be firmly established in the national consciousness. West Ham offer Rio Ferdinand, a mobile central defender who impressed while on work experience with England at Bisham Abbey. In opposition at Old Trafford should be David Beckham, already a
roots, what they are all about and what they mean to you. It keeps you grounded. But I’d still be playing football if I wasn’t being paid for it.’ Rio’s sensitive side came into play following his move to Manchester United when a replica of his United shirt and name was used to advertise an arms company. Using the slogan ‘Who do you think spends this much on defence every season?’ BAE Systems’ advert was a blatant intrusion into Rio’s life. He immediately ordered lawyers to pursue a case against
As happens every four years, all fans were dreaming of recreating the thrill of summer 1966 and England’s only World Cup win to date. It had now been forty years since that memorable day at Wembley when captain Bobby Moore was carried on the shoulders of his teammates, complete with Jules Rimet trophy. The nearest they had come to World Cup glory since was in the Italia ’90 semi-finals, curtailed via a heartbreaking penalty shootout. Most experts agreed there had been evidence of a promising
his foot, but a claim that he had sent her flowers as an apology (a claim dismissed by Wray’s husband) did little to settle the controversy. However, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson stood by Rio, even in the face of the Chelsea incident. It wasn’t long before it was announced that he was one of three players to sign new five-year contracts, which would keep him at the club until 2013, and which was reported to be worth some �130,000 per week. More good news came only days later, when United faced