Former England captain Terry Butcher says Rio Ferdinand is still a first-class player, ahead of the centre-back’s move to Queens Park Rangers on a one-year deal.
Ferdinand left Manchester United this summer after his contract expired, following 12 seasons at Old Trafford which saw him make 455 appearances, while winning six Premier League titles, two League Cups, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
However, at 35 and having just endured a lacklustre 2013-14 campaign, most believe the former England captain’s best days to be behind him, but Butcher says he can still compete on the highest level.
‘Rio’s still first-class. He’s been a top centre-half for many years now and still wants to play. It’s very early [for him to retire],’ he told Sky Sports News Radio.
‘I know him and other players would have ambitions of being a coach and manager at the top level but it takes a bit of time to get to that stage so I would always say play as long as you can.
‘QPR and are top Premier League team, who won’t be lacking when it comes to quality players, and I’m sure Harry [Redknapp] will want to add one or two more names,’ he added.
‘Rio’s got great experience and there’s already a good core there, so he’ll be great for them.’
Set to link up with his old boss at QPR, Ferdinand came up through West Ham United’s youth system under Harry Redknapp as one of the most highly-rated youngsters in English football, going on to play 157 times for the Hammers from 1996 to 2000 before an £18 million transfer to Leeds United.
Moving on to Manchester in July 2002 for £29.1 million, a then-record for a British player, the 81-times capped international was thought to be considering a move to MLS earlier this summer, but Redknapp clearly still believes he has something to offer a Premier League side.
Having suffered badly with nagging injuries over the past few seasons, how much regular football Ferdinand will be able to play at QPR is up for debate, but his experience could well prove vital for the newly-promoted side, as they bid to stay well clear of relegation in their top flight return.