Had Cristiano Ronaldo not shown himself as the best player in the World this season, Rio Ferdinand certainly would have been our best performing player. His consistancy and strength have been admirable, with him keeping some of the best strikers in the World, from Fernando Torres to Samuel Eto’o, unusually quiet.
Aside from being a great defender, Rio Ferdinand has had a go in goal as well, becoming the second outfield player in a year to go between the posts for United. Kuszczack, who had been subbed on for an injured Edwin Van der Sar, was sent off in our FA Cup game against Portsmouth. In getting sent off, he also gave away a penalty, meaning one of our players was going to have to stand up against a Muntari kick.
Ferdinand was quick to put on the jersey, just as he was against Spurs the season before, when it was John O’Shea who eventually filled in. He guessed the right way, but no keeper would have been able to save it.
Today, Rio Ferdinand has spoken out about his embarrassment over his goalkeeping stint, Wayne Rooney’s advice, and his feelings on being a goalkeeper on a permanent basis.
When asked how he felt about the time he spent in goal, Rio said, “I find it a bit embarrassing, to be honest! I’m quite critical when it comes to goalkeepers. I’m always thinking: ‘Oh he should have saved that!’ or ‘How did he let that one in?’. I think Edwin rolls his eyes at me sometimes, thinking ‘What do you know about goalkeeping?’. And he’s right, of course! I found out myself what it was like against Portsmouth. I’m still annoyed that I went with the wrong hand for the penalty. I think I might have got there had I stretched with my left hand but my instinct was to go with my right. I don’t think they’ll be using that dive as an example on goalkeeper coaching DVDs!”
Wayne Rooney had a word with Rio before the penalty was taken, with our young scouser showing himself as a rather handy goalkeeper in a recent Nike advert. “He just told me to pick a side and go for it,” Rio said of Rooney’s advice. “He told me not to wait and see which way the kick was going. It was good advice and I got lucky because I went the right way, but to no avail. There was nothing about his run-up or in his eyes that suggested he’d go to my left. I just figured I’d dive that way and if I save it then well done, if not then nobody’s expecting me to save it.”
Does Van der Sar need to worry about keeping his place in the team? Seemingly not. “I wouldn’t be a goalkeeper. No chance,” said Rio. “It’s the loneliest position on the pitch when your team’s attacking the other end. It’s really, really lonely. You’re there by yourself with all that grass around you and no other players. There’s just a crowd behind you and an empty net. It was a little eerie actually.”
See Rio in action here.