Rio Ferdinand passes on his advice to England Under-16s

Wednesday 02 Dec 2015
Rio Ferdinand talks to the Under-16s

When Rio Ferdinand made the first of his 81 appearances for England, none of the current Under-16s squad were even born.

But as the former captain spent time with the Young Lions this week they were hanging on every word the six-time Premier League winner had to say.

Dan Micciche's side were preparing for their trip to the United States for the Nike Tournament where they take on their hosts on Wednesday night followed by games against Brazil and Holland.

Watch Rio's captivating and exciting pep talk

And after being invited into the camp to speak to the latest crop of internationals, Ferdinand recalled some key moments of his career that helped shape one of England's finest defenders.

The ex-Leeds United and Manchester United star skippered his country on seven occasions, scored three goals and appeared in two World Cups, and it was a the Finals in 2002 when he realised what playing for England meant.

"It was against Brazil in Japan – Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, all the best players," remembered the 37-year-old, who made his senior debut for England in 1997.

Rio Fedinand

England caps: 81 (7 as captain)
Goals: 3
Debut: 2-0 v Cameroon, 15 Nov 1997, Wembley
Last game: 2-2 v Switzerland, 4 Jun 2011, Wembley
Clubs: West Ham United, Bournemouth (loan), Leeds United, Manchester United, Queens Park Rangers


"I'm standing there in the national anthem, I look along the line and saw all those guys there, then I looked in the stand and saw my family. It all just hit me.

"I got emotional, I almost started crying, I was welling up.

"We lost the game, I didn't really stamp my authority and I remember finishing the game and feeling numb – we went out of the World Cup."

He told the group: "As players, especially now you are going to a tournament, don't let the emotions take over. That's one of the best bits of advice I gave myself.

"You are the elite – one of the few who get this opportunity. Realise that and say you are going to grasp this opportunity with both hands. 

Rio Ferdinand talks to the U16s team

Rio recalled his time at the World Cups of 1998 and 2002

"The national anthem in front of a full-house at Wembley, that's all you've got to be dreaming about."

As well as his time playing for England, Ferdinand also talked about his toughest opponent and how he dealt with tricky forwards, who his favourite defensive partner was and compares two of the world's best players – his former Old Trafford teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

See what Rio had to say and watch the full video above. 

By FA Staff