Speaking to CNBC, Rio Ferdinand has admitted that he was disappointed to be overlooked for the Manchester United captaincy by Alex Ferguson, even though that was the decision which truly caused him to develop into the top class player everyone saw for many years.
Ferdinand said: “Sometimes there's situations during your career you think: 'Am I getting the credit I feel I deserve?'. But, at the same time that [not being named captain] is one of the things that maybe pushed me on to keep improving year in, year out, to sustain and stay at that level for all them years. I think I needed, as a person, for something to try and get to and grasp onto. If I had everything at one time it might have been detrimental to my growth maybe.”
Despite captaining United on numerous occasions, Ferdinand was never named first choice skipper by Ferguson during his time at Old Trafford.
Instead, Ferdinand was only ever second in command, filling in for Gary Neville during some very important games - such as the 2008 Champions League Final.
These successes suggested that Ferdinand was ready to take the armband on a full-time basis, but Ferguson overlooked him, and now the centre-back appears to be well aware of why he was not given the captaincy role.
Ferdinand, now 36, has admitted that not being named captain by Ferguson meant he was always striving to keep improving, rather than dropping off his performance levels when rewarded for his talents.
This idea of chasing the carrot was one which Ferguson used extensively during his management career, and it was behind his ability to get the best out of players who were not actually that good.
Ferdinand was already a fantastic player when he moved to United from Leeds in 2002, but it was Ferguson’s decision to never properly reward the centre-back which developed him into the world class defender who led the Red Devils to a wealth of silverware during his long career at Old Trafford.