Emotional Rio Ferdinand gives his verdict on West Ham's decision to leave the Boleyn Ground

West Ham United great Rio Ferdinand has revealed his thoughts on his old club's decision to leave the Boleyn Ground.

Ferdinand started his career with the Hammers under then boss Harry Redknapp.

He had graduated from the club's famous Academy before moving to Leeds United and then on to Manchester United where he enjoyed 12 trophy-laden years.

He joined Queens Park Rangers, where he fittingly rekindled his relationship with Redknapp last season, although he only played 11 games as the hoops were relegated.

Ferdinand recently returned to West Ham for the first time since his retirement from the game earlier this year.

'The stuff of dreams'

And the former England superstar defender has told his boyhood club's official website what he thinks about the decision to leave his beloved Upton Park for the 54,000 seater Olympic Stadium next summer.

“My debut has to be my stand out memory, I remember coming out, standing on the touchline with Harry Redknapp, it was the stuff of dreams," Ferdinand told whufc.com.

"I envisaged it for a couple of years before it happened, but until it happens, you’re never really sure if you’re ever going to get there.

“I’ve got loads of memories here; it’s a beautiful place to play football.

"It hasn’t got long left, I’ve always liked being able to see the flats above the stand, but yes, great memories.”

Fans will echo Ferdinand's sentiments

Ferdinand's sentiments are sure to resonate with Hammers fans, most of whom will be experiencing very similar feelings.

But many supporters and former players have accepted West Ham need to move on to start truly challenging the Premier League elite.

While the club has made a solid start to the new season and sit in eighth place as we approach the halfway stage, their realistic hopes of silverware and success come in the cups and with potential European qualification.

To challenge on those fronts consistently West Ham must increase their profile, revenue streams and status.

Olympic Stadium factor already paying off

The fact the club is moving to the Olympic Stadium is already paying off.

Key defenders Winston Reid and James Tomkins and skipper Mark Noble have all signed long-term deals with the Hammers citing the excitement around the move as a contributing factor.

And the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alex Song and Angelo Ogbonna also bought into the fact they would be playing in the last season at such a historical ground before moving to their impressive new home.

Leaving will be emotional, though, of that there is no doubt.

The ground has been graced by the likes of England World Cup winning trio Bobby Moore, Sir Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, Billy Bonds, Sir Trevor Brooking, Julian Dicks and more recently Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Paolo Di Canio and Carlos Tevez as well as countless greats from opposing teams over the years.

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