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Friday, February 24, 2006

Red News Interview with Rio Ferdinand, 2002

RN: How’s the recovery from the operation going?

Rio: It’s alright. Before I was a bit worried because I’ve never had an operation, but the physios have reassured me and the rehabilitation I’m doing now seems to be going alright, maybe a week or so and I’ll be training properly again.

RN: It must have been frustrating afterk just starting to get settled and you take a knock?

Rio: Yeah, when I first started against Boca Juniors I got injured and then again here, getting injured in the way I did was disappointing. You want to play every game that you can be involved in. I’ve never had any operations before and I don’t normally have any injuries throughout the season, but I’ve been unfortunate here so far I’ve had a couple.

RN: Was it immediately apparent that you needed an operation?

Rio: No, I did it against Bayer Leverkusen and I just carried on training. That night after the Leverkusen game I fell asleep and woke up in the night and I couldn’t move my leg. But I just carried on getting a bit of treatment and playing games and stuff. It got to a point where it was either carry on playing and doing myself more harm or get it over and done with, and obviously I got it done with.

RN: Do you reckon you will be back for the derby?

Rio: I hope so yeah, I think I definitely will be.

RN: How does it feel to be playing for United?

Rio: It’s a great feeling, I was just saying before I didn’t realise the size of the club until I went to Norway. You normally get a couple of fans waiting outside the hotel but here there were loads of fans waiting for us and they’re all sitting outside the hotel all day and night. That’s when it really hit home how big the club is, the fans are brilliant and you get loads of people screaming and shouting after you.

RN: Bigger than you expected?

Rio: Yeah, but it’s something I really enjoy, when you’re a kid you want to play in front of thousands of people and have loads of people scream your name out, that’s what you’ve got here.

RN: How do you think the season has gone so far?

Rio: I think we started slowly and gradually picked up, obviously a couple of new faces and a new coach coming in, it takes time for people to adjust to different surroundings and stuff like that. There wasn’t really much cohesion and we weren’t playing particularly well, we weren’t playing consistently well at the start of the season, but I think that’s coming together now.

RN: How does Sir Alex differ from your previous gaffers?

Rio: He’s just been there, seen it and done it. Harry Redknapp has been around a long time, but he hasn’t really been at a club where he’s won anything, unfortunately because of how good a manager he is. David O’Leary was new to the job and was just starting out as a manager. But Alex Ferguson has done everything and he’s been successful - he's got that attitude that WE ARE Manchester United and that runs throughout the squad and that’s the way we go out to play on the pitch.

RN: You said it took some time to decide on moving, what was the ‘icing on the cake’ in your decision to move from Leeds?

Rio: I think it was just being Man United to be honest with you. Since I was a kid when I was growing up and the recent years when I’ve been watching and playing football they’ve been the benchmark. They’re probably the biggest club in the world, and I thought I’d be a mug not to come and I’d regret it at the end of my career. That’s all I kept thinking: ‘I’ll regret it if I had the opportunity to come and didn’t take it’. When I was younger and everyone was saying United are coming in for you when I was 17, 18, I thought if I have to leave West Ham I hope I go to United because they were doing really well at the time. I was more than happy to go to Leeds though because no one else would come in for me.

RN: Did Utd not come in for you when you were 17?

Rio: They wouldn't sell me at the time. But at the end of the day I was more than happy to go to Leeds because no-one else that I was interested in came in for me.

RN: When did you first hear that Fergie was after you?

Rio: When I was at the World Cup it was in all the papers.

RN: So, you heard from the papers?

Rio: As soon as you saw it I probably saw it.

RN: Was going back to Leeds difficult?

Rio: Not really, people said it was going to be this and that but I’d expected that, as soon as I’d made my decision to come I knew there would come a time when I’d have to go back to Leeds. I was prepared to go there anyway, it was nothing that really bothered me, to be honest with you there’s no better feeling than to go somewhere and have people on your back and then you put it up ‘em. It wasn’t to be this year but there’s plenty more years to go back there.

RN: Venables and Ridsdale made a few negative comments when you were in the middle of it all. Did you manage to speak to them?

Rio: No, I didn’t see them so there was no point in me going looking for them to talk to them. I haven’t really got anything to say. I did wish Terry Venables all the best in his job, but I’m not at Leeds anymore. I’m not a Leeds player so my cares aren’t really over there. People like Ridsdale have got things to say and obviously he’s got to make sure that he keeps the club in a certain profile and keeps them in the papers, and if they’ve got anything negative to say about me then so be it. It’s not really my concern and I’m not really bothered.

RN: Does the size of the transfer fee ever come into your head, or is it let them deal with it and I’ll get on with playing football?

Rio: I’m not bothered. When I went to Leeds I talked about it for one day with my brother and my mum and dad, then that was it and I never spoke about it again. Same thing here, no ones even mentioned it other than the people on the street and the supporters. I just laugh ‘cos it’s a lot of money but I don’t make the prices.

RN: What was your United debut like?

Rio: Yeah it was good man, it was wicked, to see the fans and every one there. The night games in Europe are wicked as well and it’s good to come out as a home player rather than an away player when you come here.

RN: What do you think of the atmosphere at the ground?

Rio: Yeah its good, the game against Everton the other day was a joke how many people were singing.

RN: Yeah, the Stretford End in full voice.

Rio: If it could be like that every game it would be wonderful.

RN: Does it make a difference to you as a player?

Rio: If the fans are quiet and you can hear them mumbling and groaning, it will affect some people. Might not others but you go into the changing rooms after and you think, 'just get behind us man!'. But its not been like that this season they’ve been behind us 100% every game, that’s since I’ve been here I don’t know what it was like before, but it’s been brilliant and if the
fans can get behind us like that then hopefully we can bring some silverware at the end of the season and make people happy.

RN: Have you noted a rise in your profile since joining the club?

Rio: Yeah definitely, I’ve only been into the city centre once during the day its rather hectic, I’d rather just go home and sleep. Going to the Trafford Centre and that is too mad.

RN: It must be one of the negative things about playing for United, not being able to do stuff, and watching what you say to certain people ‘cos everyone is looking to get something out of you?

Rio: To be honest with you I’m one of these that doesn’t want to say no to anybody, I want to say ‘how you doing’ and sign a few autographs. I’ll stand up and do things with kids all day because I was a kid once and I know what it’s like when you see someone that you look up to. When you’re out with your family and you’re eating people want to talk to you and mither you it’s a bit frustrating but I’m not the type of person to say just do one, I’ll just stand there and sign what I’ve got to sign and then get off.

RN: Do you agree with Thierry Henry’s comment that he’ll walk off the pitch if he encounters any more racism in the ground?

Rio: No I don’t agree with that to be honest with you because as I’ve said before, you’ve just got to carry on playing and if you beat a team that’s the time when you look over at the fans and see how they feel. People like that are ignorant and I’ve got no time for racist people. But if you walk off the pitch then it’s kind of like they’ve won, and I don’t like getting beat
so I wouldn’t walk off the pitch, I’d just wait at the end of the game if we beat them you can look over at the fans and feel a bit of satisfaction that you’ve smugged them up.

RN: What’s it like playing alongside Laurent Blanc?

Rio; Yeah it’s good. He’s got a wealth of experience, he’s won the World Cup and the European championship as well as playing for some of the biggest clubs in the world and he’s someone you can definitely learn off.

RN: Are you looking forward to a partnership with John O’Shea, which Fergie has hinted at?

Rio: I enjoy playing with Sheasey, he’s a quality player. He’s come up through the youth ranks and done well when he’s got his chance to play, so he more than deserves his place and a run in the team. There’s Wes Brown who’s great and got great potential. He’s played for England already, he just needs to stay injury free. It's going to make it very hard for the manager when everyone's fit.

RN: Any Personal favourites of the songs sung about you by the crowd?

Rio: I Don’t hear them to be honest, you're concentrating on the game but you can hear them before the game and when the ball goes out and they sing ‘Rio, Rio, Rio’.

RN: When you were in Japan did the United boys offer you any advice or encouragement about joining United?

Rio: (big Smile, shake of the head) I ain’t saying nothing.

RN: What’s the target for this season?

Rio: The target is to win the League, Champions league, the F.A Cup and the Worthington cup as well. If we go out there to play a game we don’t go out to lose, or draw - we go out to win everything.

RN: Can you see yourself ending your career at United?

Rio: Yeah, I like it up here, it’s good man. Everyone’s cool and chilled out. It’s not as quick as the hustle and bustle of down south. I live out in the countryside and it’s quiet. When I moved from West Ham to Leeds everyone was saying I’m going to get a flat in the city, when I came here everyone said I’d get a flat in the city. People think football is a glamourous life and that but I just go home and watch TV, sleep then wake up and eat.

RN: You not go out on the lash then?

Rio: I used to at West Ham, it was the thing to do and that’s what people did, but the games changed now it’s so much quicker and professional. You have got to think of yourself, if I go out and I’ve got a game then I’d be wrecked. When I was younger I’d just think, I’m going out, and just turn up for training feeling a bit rough. But times change, you get older, you get more experienced and you learn.

RN: Is it not tolerated under any circumstances?

Rio: No, not at all, I don’t think it should be, players are paid a lot of money nowadays to play football, people pay their money to come and watch us so you should be in tip top condition to go out there to play. I think you would be doing yourself an injustice and you wouldn’t be doing the fans any favours, you would be treating the fans like mugs, they put a lot of money towards your wages. If I went and watched a play I want to see the best, I don’t want a geezer coming on half cut and not up to scratch because I’d be moaning, that’s how the fans must feel as well.


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