Rio Ferdinand is a player that I have taken several years to warm to, with the player’s change in attitude aiding my change in opinion. Whilst he has matured immensely in his time at United, his form has improved every season, which culminated in last season’s brilliantly reliable presence that he provided. Had Ronaldo not enjoyed such a phenomenal season, Rio would have easily be named our Player of the Season.

With the season-long injury to Gary Neville, Ferdinand stood in admirably as a captain, whether he had the armband or not, leading the team out in our European Cup final victory over Chelsea.

Whilst Chelsea fans will argue John Terry is the best defender going, and Liverpool fans reckon it’s Jamie Carragher, Sir Alex Ferguson and Gary Pallister have championed Ferdinand as not only the best defender in England, but Europe as well.

“When Rio is at his best, there is no finer defender in Europe,” said Pallister. “He has pace, is composed and uses the ball intelligently. We all know he had a difficult time with his contract negotiations and before that the missed drugs test. But these are the kind of events that make you stronger and Rio is now fulfilling all the potential people knew he had.”

Gary Pallister was one half of the great defensive duo, along with Steve Bruce, that dominated the Premiership in the early 90s. Ferguson has claimed that Ferdinand with Nemanja Vidic are the best defensive partnership for years.

“Rio has been the best defender in the country if not Europe for a couple of years,” said Sir Alex Ferguson. “His maturity and leadership have been key factors in the team’s success. He is someone that young players learn from and that more experienced players respect. I have not seen a better defensive pairing than him and Nemanja for a long time.”

Rio Ferdinand:
PFA Premier League Team of the Year – 2001/2002, 2004/2005, 2006/2007 and 2007/2008
League title – 3
Champions League – 1
League Cup – 1

John Terry:
PFA Premier League Team of the Year – 2003/2004, 2004/2005, 2005/2006,
PFA Player of the Year – 2004/2005
League title – 2
FA Cup – 2
League Cup – 2

Jamie Carragher:
PFA Premier League Team of the Year – 2005/2006
Champions League – 1
FA Cup – 2
League Cup – 2