Beckham backs Ferdinand England captaincy

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The Independent Online

David Beckham believes Rio Ferdinand has all the qualities required to be a top England captain.

Ferdinand skippered Manchester United to victory over AC Milan in the San Siro last night, his first appearance since John Terry was sacked from the job he loved by Fabio Capello.

Capello will now elevate Ferdinand to the job, although he has not spoken to the defender yet and the former West Ham star cannot be entirely certain he will become skipper until England meet up ahead of their friendly with Egypt at Wembley on March 3.

But as someone who did the job with such distinction for five years, Beckham has no doubt Ferdinand will be a success.

"Rio is a great captain," he said.

"He has proved he has been a great captain when he has captained Manchester United in the past. He is a leader."

Exactly seven days after that England game, Beckham and his team-mates must try and find a way back into their Champions League last-16 tie.

Although Clarence Seedorf's late goal has given Milan some hope, in truth they will have to win by two clear goals at Old Trafford, something that seems highly unlikely with Wayne Rooney in his present form.

Rooney took his tally for the season to 25 with a pair of second-half headers last night, the first reminiscent of the Lionel Messi effort that condemned United to defeat against Barcelona in last year's final.

"He is on fire," said Beckham.

"I have always said he was one of the best goalscorers in the world and he is proving it week in and week out.

"If you give him chances he'll score goals, that's the way he is and the way his mind works."

Judging by the reception Beckham received from the 4,000 visiting fans in the San Siro last night, he can expect a very warm welcome back to Old Trafford for what is certain to be an emotional occasion for the 34-year-old, just as it was last night.

"Obviously it was emotional," he said.

"It is the first time I have played against United since I left and I have to say thank you to the United fans because they were incredible, singing my name and things like that.

"It was an emotional game for me. To play against the team I started my career with is obviously a big thing, but I enjoyed it.

"Losing the game is disappointing, but the second goal has given us a chance."

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