Manager must hope Ferdinand has turned over a new leaf or two

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The Independent Online

It is an eye-wateringly honest account of a footballer's life that might shock even the more open-minded readers – maybe even John Terry – but there is a good chance that Fabio Capello did not cast his eye over Rio: My Story before he made his decision to appoint Rio Ferdinand as England captain yesterday.

"The truth is some women will do anything to crack on with footballers," Ferdinand wrote. "Some birds will buy you drinks all night, strip for you, get shagged with other people in the room and do all sorts of tricks. Some of the stories you hear – I admit I got carried away with it at times but you get older, more responsible and leave that sort of thing behind."

That was Ferdinand in his 2006 autobiography, although it would be fair to say that the author in question has stayed good to his promise to lead a less hectic lifestyle. Having lost out to Terry in August 2008 when Capello first picked a captain, Ferdinand has at last been appointed to a role that the great majority regard as an honour and a few see as a curse.

It would not have been the circumstances in which Ferdinand would have wished to have been made England captain but, given his own liability to attract the wrong kind of headlines, perhaps he is due a change in fortune.

Ferdinand is also the first black player to be appointed as a permanent England captain – Paul Ince was the first to do it on a temporary basis – a milestone that is significant. Some players in the squad thought that Sol Campbell was very unfairly overlooked in 2000 when David Beckham was given the job as Alan Shearer's successor.

Ferdinand could never be described as an uncontroversial choice. In fact, were it not for the circumstances in which Terry has lost the captaincy there would be a good deal more questions over whether Ferdinand is the right choice for a role that brings a high-level of scrutiny.

Most notorious on his CV is Ferdinand's eight-month ban for missing a drugs test at Manchester United's training ground in 2003, which ruled him out of Euro 2004 and put him at loggerheads with the FA.

In his autobiography, Ferdinand was highly critical of the FA's decision to ban him, recalling the moment when he exploded in anger at the organisation's then executive director David Davies. "It felt like my head was about to be served up on a plate," Ferdinand said at the time.

The more immediate doubts are over his fitness, which has meant the defender has played only 12 games this season for club and country, with a problem that originated in his back but has had a knock-on effect. Speaking before he played for England against Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk in October, Ferdinand claimed the injury was not career-threatening, although he has played only six games since. He is also involved in a protracted dispute with the FA over his ban for an elbow in the face of Hull City's Craig Fagan ,which earned him a three-match ban when he was punished retrospectively by video. He was given an extra game for a "frivolous" appeal and has since signalled his intention to tempt the FA's further wrath by appealing again.

Ferdinand has always attracted interest for his off-field business interests, including involvement in the funding for a British gangster film that received mixed reviews and an online magazine. He is also understood to have a connection with the New Era football agency run by former player Jamie Moralee.

Now married to his long-time partner Rebecca Ellison, Ferdinand has two young sons and a much lower profile than when he was more famous for the missed drugs tests or that infamous trip to Ayia Napa. Capello will hope it stays that way.

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