Over 12 years after leaving Leeds United, Rio Ferdinand has opened up on how he signed for Manchester United.
The heady days of the David O’Leary era are long, long gone for Leeds United. Under the Irishman’s stewardship, Leeds challenged in the Premier League and the Champions League, but their heavy spending in the transfer market caught up with them eventually, leading to their relegation to the Championship in 2004.
Yet two years earlier, their financial peril was apparent. Defender Rio Ferdinand had been bought for £18m from West Ham United in 2000, becoming the most expensive defender in the world as well as breaking the British transfer record. Having established himself as one of the best defenders in the Premier League and even the world, Ferdinand became highly sought after in light of Leeds’ deteriorating financial situation – and at just 23, Ferdinand broke both of his previous transfer records again by completing a £30m move to Leeds’ bitter rivals Manchester United.
Ferdinand went on to make over 450 appearances for the Red Devils, winning six Premier League titles, five Community Shields, two League Cups as well as the FA Cup and the Champions League once each in a superb career under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford before returning to London with Queens Park Rangers this summer.
Now, with the release of his new autobiography #2sides, Ferdinand has opened up on how he left Elland Road for United after the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
“I heard Man United wanted to sign me during that World Cup (2002),” said Ferdinand. “I came back, and then we were going on tour at Leeds to Australia, and Man United put in a bid or something like that and I thought to myself ‘well next morning we’re all going to Australia, and I thought if I get on that plane I might not go to Man United. I know that Leeds need to sell me due to financial difficulties that they’re in’.”
“I remember sitting in Peter Ridsdale’s office for a couple of hours and I think he was just playing hide-and-seek with me. He wouldn’t come and see me, he didn’t want to sell me,” he said. “And I said ‘listen, please man, I know what position you’re in, please just do the right thing’.”