Rio Ferdinand yesterday confirmed that his decision to retire from international football was motivated by a desire to extend his club career, but admitted he almost quit after Sir Alex Ferguson announced his decision to retire.
Ferdinand was controversially left out of the England squad for Euro 2012 by Roy Hodgson, due to “footballing reasons” that were never explained in detail and he then turned down a call-up for qualifiers against Montenegro and San Marino.
Talking to the Sunday Sun: “Basically, I could play for another three or four years – or play two or three games for England and be finished in a year. It wasn’t a contest.
“I couldn’t sacrifice my fitness for the sake of a few more England caps. It would not have been fair on United, it would have been a disservice to the club and to England.”
Rio, though, admitted that as Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement, he consider to quit football himself.
“Sir Alex leaving did make me think: ‘Is it time for me to go too?'” said Ferdinand, who revealed the extent to which his chronic back injury affected him over the last couple of seasons.
“Two or three years ago people were saying I was finished and I remember those dark days,” said Rio. “I was in a depressive state, I will admit that. They weren’t easy times and I couldn’t play to the highest standard. You think negative thoughts. I had 18 months of being injured on and off.”
“My two boys are desperate to watch me playing for Manchester United. That was a big factor. They were being asked at school what was happening with me. They were coming home and saying, ‘You aren’t leaving are you, Dad? We want to see you playing for United.’ It is only now they are properly getting into football. They are six and four and I want them to be able to remember me in a United shirt.”
Ferdinand played 28 league games last season, his second-highest number of Premier League appearances since the 2007-08 season, which completely justifies his decision to prioritise United over his England career, particularly considering the appalling treatment he was subject to in the wake of the racism row involving his brother Anton and John Terry.
Well in Rio, United > England.
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