'Shocked' Ferdinand puts his turbulent past behind him

Guaranteed his place in the team, playing for the club who are set to win another Premier League title, in the form of his life, respected by the rest of the squad and a natural communicator. Rio Ferdinand as captain of England would appear to be one of the simpler decisions presented to Fabio Capello.

Except for the baggage the 29-year-old central defender has carried. Ferdinand's career, his off-field behaviour at least, has, at times, been far less elegant than those Damier Canvas patterns, which is why he was quick to admit to his "shock" at having been selected to lead his country against France tonight.

The announcement by Capello came in typical formal surroundings, with the manager bringing the players to attention, at the Grove Hotel in Watford, yesterday as they had an early lunch before departing to Luton airport for their flight to Paris. "He stood up and told us, stopped everyone eating," Ferdinand said. "That was the first I'd heard about it."

The captaincy is something that Ferdinand has, nevertheless, coveted which, given his experience – he is set to win his 66th cap – and his ability is no surprise, although he has also privately admitted that his past might count against him. It was a relief for the central defender to hear from Capello that his worries were groundless. It is time to look forward.

"It's been made an important issue," Ferdinand said of the captaincy, which he admitted is not "set in stone" because of Capello's vowed intention to "rotate" it until England face the Czech Republic in August prior to the start of the World Cup qualification campaign. "A new manager comes in and everyone's on trial. This manager leads by example and is very certain on his ideas. On the training ground and in the hotel. We're on trial and we know that. The players who can't adjust to that or deal with it won't play.

"The captain needs to be able to go out there and perform at the highest level, play in the right way and perform in the right way on the field and in the hotel, around the place. But making it the be-all and end-all of an England squad or team defeats the purpose. It's more important to have 11 players out there, all leaders."

Which is also true. Except the captain, as Ferdinand knows better than most, sets the standard. He chose Roy Keane, not surprisingly, as the mano he would like to emulate. "Fantastic captain," Ferdinand said. "He led by example, played well, 7/10 8/10, 9/10 every game. Consistent. A man amongst men. If questions needed to be asked or answered, he was normally the one to answer them. He's symbolic of Manchester United."

It is a symbolism that Ferdinand would also like to follow. Given the frequency with which he has captained his club this season, and the doubts over whether Ryan Giggs will continue to play as much, and whether Gary Neville will play at all, it is possible that he will be confirmed as United's captain, too, from next season.

"If something needs to be said on or off the pitch I'm not afraid to say it, and [I want to lead] by example as well," Ferdinand said. "There are a lot of different facets to captaincy and different people bring different things. We'll see in time."

We will also see whether or not this is to be a one-off or a permanent fixture. The sense is that, although other candidates will be tried, the captaincy may be now Ferdinand's to lose. It would be a landmark moment as he would become the first black player to be handed the role on more than an irregular basis.

"It's the biggest honour that's happened to me," Ferdinand said. "How many people are named as England captain? Not many. To be on that list of illustrious players is a great achievement in itself. It's a cliché but, when you're a young kid, the dream of playing and captaining your country is at the forefront of your mind as you grow up. I'm able to live that dream now."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis