Gary Neville has started a debate by saying Rio Ferdinand is the best defender England has ever produced.
Gary Neville has started a nationwide debate by insisting Three Lions star Rio Ferdinand is the best defender England has ever produced.
Manchester United star Neville has been so impressed with Ferdinand's form this season that he believes he is already becoming a living legend.
Ferdinand will be back in action tonight when United take on Sparta Prague in a crucial Champions League fixture at Old Trafford.
And Neville said: "He’s outstanding. He has absolutely everything a defender could want; height, presence, reading of the game, speed, reaction. He’s a fantastic player with great composure on the ball.
"He's probably the best defender England has seen in its history. I'm not being too kind to him there, he's an unbelievable defender.
"Rio can go on to achieve whatever he wants. There are players around him at this club that can help and work with him, hopefully to give him the trophies that his career will deserve."
No-one will disagree with Neville that Rio is an outstanding talent and one of the key player's in Sven-Goran Eriksson's England squad.
But when it comes to drawing up a list of England's best ever defenders, the real debating begins!
England's 1966 World Cup hero Jack Charlton, who partnered the legendary Bobby Moore in our greatest hour, started the ball rolling.
He said: "Rio Ferdinand the best ever? No - not at all. There have been a hell of a lot of magnificent defenders in the past 20 years such as Terry Butcher, Sol Campbell and Tony Adams.
"There have been lots and lots of good defenders. Gary is entitled to his opinion, but I don't agree with him.
"Ferdinand is a very good player that is for sure, but to call him the best ever is a total nonsense.
"What about players like Neil Franklin, Billy Wright, not to mention Bobby Moore. There were some great defenders around in my day.
"Also people forget that in the old days there used to be only one centre back, and now you have two. So you had twice as much ground to cover back then and we can see how tough it is now when you have two players."
Gary Mabbutt, who won 16 caps for England between 1983 and 1992, also has his opinion.
The former Spurs man said: "Bobby Moore has been the best England has had in that position. He was a big hero of mine when I was young.
"Rio Ferdinand has the attributes to become one of the best, and maybe when he has 100 England caps we can look back and see him as an all-time great.
"He has the temperament to be as good as Bobby Moore or Terry Butcher. He is ranked up there with the best.
"The way he came back after being such a long time out - and play like he had never been away - is a huge testament to his application.
"If he continues to play the way he is, then he can even get better. His partnership with Sol Campbell is working very well.
"But it's a very debatable point, because England has had some great defenders over the years."
Mark Wright, who partnered Tony Adams at Italia 90 and helped England to the semi-finals, said: "Rio is a very, very accomplished centre half. But whether he is the best is a matter of opinion.
"He is a good ball-playing centre half, with bags of ability and he is up there, but I am not sure about him being the best."
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