Rio has feet on ground and hope held high

Given Rio Ferdinand's first tournament experience ended with England being feted at Luton airport despite being knocked out in the last 16 at France 98, it was perhaps refreshing to hear the England captain set the bar high yesterday.

On the flip side, Ferdinand's assertion that "We are going to South Africa to try and bring the trophy home," does smack a little of the premature triumphalism so often associated with the national team. Fortunately Ferdinand added caveats, noting, "We had a good reality check against Mexico [on Monday]. There is room for improvement."

While England have never gone as far as Scotland's infamous send-off to their disastrous 1978 campaign, when Ally McLeod's team had an open-top bus tour of Hampden Park, televised live, they have often headed off with a sense that the trophy is there for the taking. And usually come home after a quarter-final exit to the first decent team they meet.

Ferdinand said: "We are not going to be going into the tournament thinking 'get to the quarter-finals, semi-finals or final and we've done our job'. We'll only do ourselves justice by winning a tournament. No one gets remembered for finishing in the semi-finals or quarter-finals."

But, he added, "We are not the finished article, we know that, and I think that bodes well. I remember going into the last World Cup and we beat Jamaica by six and people thought we were going to be world-beaters. I don't think we looked at the bad points of that game. This time we've had a game we've won but there is still a lot of stuff to work on.

"In past tournaments, we've talked about how well we are going to do and really getting carried away with ourselves. There is a better sense of perspective in this squad. That also bodes well."

So there you have it: because England are not over-confident their captain is confident they will do well. To be fair, Ferdinand cannot win this exercise. Whatever he says faces being interpreted as defeatism or triumphalism. Besides, if England do not regard themselves as potential winners they will have no chance. Confidence is a key part of any team's game.

Ferdinand is going to his fourth World Cup, equalling Bobby Charlton (who did not play in his first, 1958, just as Ferdinand did not play in 1998). "You look at Sir Bobby as someone on a pedestal," said Ferdinand. "You aspire to be like him. To equal one of the many records he holds would be an achievement." It is the tournament he missed, however, that made the biggest impact on Ferdinand; Euro 2000 when he was one of the players cut from Kevin Keegan's final squad.

"I was embarrassed," he said. "My pride was hurt. I had to watch the team play and I was feeling in my head I should be there. But then I looked at myself and asked: 'Did I work hard enough to be there?' I took stock and evaluated. I trained harder, I thought about football more. I used to be on the clubbing scene all the time when I was young. A good night out now is a nice restaurant, having some food and a glass of wine."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project