Highs and Lows of Rio Ferdinand's Manchester United Career
At just 23 years old, Ferdinand had his whole career ahead of him, but even he wouldn't have been able to believe all the things he would go on to achieve.
Six league titles, one Champions League, one FA Cup, two League Cups and one World Club Cup is a pretty respectable tally of medals. Furthermore, only five players have won the Premier League more times than him.
Whilst there have been many highs during his 12 seasons at United, there have also been a few lows, with Ferdinand not a unanimously popular player amongst supporters. However, that doesn't change the strong feeling he has for the club.
"I'll be a United supporter for the rest of my life, so will my kids," Ferdinand told The Republik of Mancunia last month. "It’s in me now, so I can't get rid of it!"
After officially signing for QPR, we look back at Ferdinand's best and worst moments as a Manchester United player.
1st Premier League Title
Just 10 months after joining Manchester United from rivals Leeds, Ferdinand could call himself a Premier League champion.
United lifted the trophy at Goodison Park after beating Everton 2-1 on the final day of the season.
Speaking at the book launch for his autobiography, "My Decade As A Red," Ferdinand talked about how great it felt to win that title:
It was a dream come true. You think it's never going to happen. I'd been playing professional football for seven years and never even got close to winning the league. So when I signed for Man United, that was my whole aim. All I'd dreamed about was winning the league and now I was at a club where the platform was there to win that. To do it in the first season was great.
Ferdinand was banned from football for eight months after failing to stay for a regulation drugs test after training in 2003.
Before training, he was told that he would be tested for drugs after the session concluded. However, when training finished, Ferdinand went into Manchester.
Paul Kelso wrote for The Guardian about Ferdinand's attempts to return to the training ground to take the test. Phone records confirm that Ferdinand called at 2.02pm to request a test, 25 minutes before the testers left the Carrington training ground. He was told it was too late, though.
UEFA confirmed this fact as well as reporting that Ferdinand took and passed a drugs test the following day.
However, Ferdinand was banned for eight months and fined £50,000. He offered to have a hair follicle test, which would show any drug activity over the past six months, but the FA rejected his offer.
Booed by the Fans
The fans stuck by Ferdinand through his drugs ban, but a turning point for many was his lengthy contract negotiations in 2005.
Having been paid for eight months whilst not playing, the fans grew frustrated when he stalled on signing a contract extension after returning.
It didn't help that Ferdinand was pictured in a London restaurant with his agent and then-Chelsea CEO Peter Kenyon. Ferdinand insists that the meeting was brief and just by chance, but this excuse is still not accepted by all.
After the game, Ferguson defended his player and suggested that the fans could be making the situation worse, as reported in the Daily Mail.
We don't want to make a monster out of this thing. You can maybe push players into these things and you can make it worse.
He knows we want him to sign and that's important, and he knows the fans want him to sign, so we don't want to be shoving the lad into something he is not sure about.
If he's not sure then he should take time - but that most important thing is we want him to do it quickly.
After 16 months of talks, on and off, Ferdinand eventually signed an extension that made him the highest paid player at the club, as reported by The Telegraph.
Last-Minute Winner Against Liverpool
The 2005-06 season wasn't a great one for United fans, with Jose Mourinho's Chelsea dominating the Premier League with Roman Abramovich's millions, whilst United supporters contemplated a future under the masses of debt installed by the Glazer family.
One of the rays of light in this season was the 1-0 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford.
In injury time, United were awarded a free-kick and Ferdinand managed to get his head on the end of it, leaving Pepe Reina with no chance. The fans went crazy and Gary Neville was even fined £5,000 for his celebration.
Speaking at the book launch for his autobiography last year, Ferdinand talked about that goal in good detail.
I signed for Manchester United and you get involved in the whole rivalry and immerse yourself in the club’s history. Manchester United and Liverpool is a huge rivalry. It's our biggest rivalry, in terms of the success they had in the 80s and then United became successful, so the rivalry is huge. So to score a winner like that, last minute in the Stretford End, you explode. If you could bottle that emotion, you'd be a very rich man.
Captaining United to European Glory
Manchester United won the Champions League in 2008 after beating Chelsea on penalties. Gary Neville, the captain at the time, was injured throughout that season, meaning Ferdinand took the armband for the final.
Ahead of his testimonial, Ferdinand reflected on the high points in his career and singled out that night in Moscow, as reported by Stuart James in The Guardian:
The Champions League was just an unbelievable night – you just don't think in your wildest dreams that you're ever going to get a chance to get your hands on that trophy. To be captain that night was phenomenal, a bonus on top of everything else.
In 2009, Ferdinand launched his own magazine and used his shirt number to name it "#5". With the magazine came a whole line of merchandise, including the #5 hats.
Football supporters are rarely impressed when their club's players have a range of off-field distractions.
Ferdinand has been involved in making films, creating a record label and presenting television programmes, amongst other things, but his obsession with the hats has been a bugbear for some supporters.
Scoring the Last Goal at Old Trafford Under Sir Alex Ferguson's Reign
United faced Swansea for Sir Alex Ferguson's final game at Old Trafford before his retirement. The Welsh side looked set to spoil Ferguson's big day when the scoreline was 1-1 with three minutes remaining.
Then, a Robin van Persie corner managed to reach Ferdinand when he was just six yards out. He blasted the ball into the back of the net and celebrated wildly.
Ferdinand ensured that Fergie was able to say goodbye to Old Trafford on a high, thanks to his late winner.