Rio Ferdinand has avoided Wayne Rooney’s stag do this weekend, which certainly won’t do his status with Sir Alex Ferguson and Fabio Capello any harm. Instead, after travelling with the national side to Trinidad last week, he’s made a trip Nigeria, where he’s had several commitments to fulfil within a short 36 hour period. Visiting an orphanage, meeting the state governor, having lunch with influential business people, attending a gala dinner and a soccer clinic, as well as playing some street football.
Whilst in Nigeria, he spoke to a journalist about Euro 2008 and our recent European Cup victory.
He will have missed the opening games of Euro 2008 on Saturday, where his team mates Ronaldo and Nani earned an opening day victory against Turkey, and it’s not for the first time either. This will be the third European Championships in Ferdinand’s career and the third time that he has failed to play. In the summer of 2000, where he made his move from West Ham to Leeds United, as the most expensive defender in the World and the most expensive player in England, Keegan omitted him from his squad that travelled to Belgium and Holland.
He missed the second Euros because of the lengthy ban imposed on him by the FA. It was a case of them cutting off their nose to spite their face in regards to the United man. He was given an 8 month ban for missing a drugs test, despite City player Christian Negouai escaping with just a £2,000 fine after doing the same thing that same year.
This year, Rio Ferdinand would certainly have been travelling to the Euros, most likely as England captain, but after the side got knocked out against Croatia, in a game where no United players featured, he will again miss the tournament. But will he be watching it? “No way,” he said. “I don’t do Euros, do I? They’re not in my remit,” he added with a smile.
Ferdinand tips Italy to be the winners, ruling out Portugal because “their midfield is too weak” and citing Eduardo’s injury as the reason for Croatia not winning. “Who scored all their goals in qualification,” he said.
Our defender relived that incredible evening in Moscow, admitting that when he watched John Terry walk towards the goal, he imagined their European dream was over. He was asked did he expect JT to miss. “Not really. But these things happen, thank God,” replied Rio. “No one likes to lose. But penalties are absolutely the worse way to lose, and I’ve been on the receiving end before.”