“Once I spoke to him, I was going.”
Anton Ferdinand has opened up on his switch from boyhood club West Ham to Sunderland and revealed the role that Roy Keane played in convincing him to agree to the move.
Having been at West Ham from the age of nine, Ferdinand was reluctant to leave but in 2008, the London club pleaded with the centre-half to go to Sunderland.
Ferdinand had rejected an earlier approach from Newcastle and was determined to stay with the Hammers before he was made aware that his beloved club desperately needed the money from his sale.
“Newcastle wanted me first but I turned down Newcastle because at the time Newcastle were going through a transitional period upstairs in the boardroom and they were unstable,” Ferdinand told Kickback with Nedum.
“West Ham were unstable at the time in the boardroom too with the Icelandic people. Sunderland came and bid £8 million and West Ham accepted it.
“I remember the chief executive and sporting director, Gianlucia Nani, came to me and said, ‘Anton we’ve accepted a bid for you, £8 million to Sunderland.’ I said, ‘I’m not going.’
“He went, ‘What? Anton, Roy Keane is the manager. He’ll be good for you. You should go to Roy Keane.’
Anton Ferdinand on Roy Keane
“I said, ‘If Roy Keane will be good for me then bring him here?’ That conversation ended and for about a week he kept coming to me saying ‘Anton you’ve got to go, please.’
“The last straw was when he said, ‘Anton the club is in financial struggles, if you don’t go, the club could be finished.’
“It pulled on my heartstrings. I just said to him, ‘Listen I’m not promising that I’ll go but I’ll go and speak to Roy Keane and see what he has to say.’
“I went up. Roy Keane asked me to meet him at his house in Hale. Man United were playing Newcastle that Sunday so I went and watched the game to watch Rio and went to his [Keane’s] house after.”
Ferdinand was filled with encouragement after meeting Keane to discuss his plans for the defender, with the Irishman vowing to develop Ferdinand into an England international.
Anton Ferdinand reveals what Roy Keane told him
Keane’s persuasive comments did the trick and Ferdinand agreed to make the move to the Stadium of Light but, as it turned out, Keane didn’t even see out the season as he stood down as Sunderland manager on December 4, 2008.
Ferdinand continued: “I went to his house and what he said to me, I was done. Once I spoke to him, I was going.
“He was saying to me, ‘Listen Anton, outside of the four or five best centre-backs – you’re talking your brother, John Terry, Jamie Carragher, Woodgate, Ledley King – outside of those guys you should be next on the list of playing for England. You’re not being spoken about and I can get you there.’
“He was telling me the reasons why I wasn’t there and what we were going to work on.
“He’s got weight! If he’s speaking in the press saying I should be playing for England then I know I’m getting a call-up. I was sold. I went and he was quite funny to be fair to him. He actually had a bit of banter.
“I went back [to West Ham] and I told them I’d leave. All of a sudden, my man [Keane] was there for three-and-a-half months. I was like, ‘cheers Roy!'”