“I’m number one… That was the easy decision for me.”
When Rio Ferdinand was left with the difficult challenge of ranking the top defenders of the Premier League era, he seemed to struggle with all but his top spot.
“I believe I’m number one, that’s how I thought, that’s how I approach everything… That was the easy decision for me,” said Ferdinand confidently on Between The Lines.
When it came to naming the rest, however, he took a bit longer of a pause.
Two legendary defenders pick their top five centre-backs from the Premier League era 📊
Fascinating viewing! 😍
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 24, 2022
Ferdinand revealed that his decision making for the other players that would round out his top five would be based on their accolades, the standard they played at and their individual attributes.
After a bit of a pause, Ferdinand named his former teammate, Nemanja Vidic, as his number two.
“Vidic, I just thought he led by example, didn’t really say much. I was the talker and organiser but he was an animal and one of the only player strikers looked and thought, ‘I’m not going near him.’
“He never saw the ball, look at his nose… He used to just go through people to win the ball but he was a better footballer than people give him credit for.
“He wasn’t blessed with a lot of pace but he read the game really well.”
Virgil van Dijk had been with Ferdinand at the time and ended up being his number three pick, while Van Dijk questioned if he had earned it yet with only one Premier League trophy, Ferdinand assured him that his talents hadn’t gone unnoticed.
“I think the impact you have on the team is massive,” said Ferdinand to Van Dijk.
“Your attributes would put you in the top tier of any of those guys.
“Natural, physical athlete, Stam could maybe be up there with you but I think you’re the full package… The game seems to come very easy to you.”
Ferdinand then rounded out his selection with Jaap Stam and John Terry respectively but gave a specific badge of honour to himself, Van Dijk and Stam.
“I think the difference with myself, you and with Jaap, especially, is that we could have played in any team in any era.”
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