Current club: Manchester United
Rio, 6’2”, was born in Peckham and trained with a number of London clubs before joining West Ham United’s youth system. He initially played in midfield but was quickly converted to central defence, making his Premier League debut for the Hammers as a substitute against Sheffield Wednesday in the last game of 1995-96.
In the following season he scored twice in 15 Premier League appearances and also featured in 10 Division Two fixtures on loan at AFC Bournemouth.
He made the big breakthrough in 1997-98, being close to an ever-present in the Premier League with West Ham and winning his first full England cap as a substitute for Gareth Southgate in a friendly against Cameroon at Wembley on 15 November 1997.
At 19 years eight days he became England’s youngest ever defender. A big-money move to Leeds United in 2000 created a new British transfer record and made Rio the world’s most expensive defender.
He had an outstanding World Cup in 2002, starting all five games, and after the tournament an even bigger fee took him to Manchester United. With an enduring reputation as a world-class defender he won his 75th cap in Ukraine in October 2009.