Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Laid-back Ferdinand’s door is always open

Rio Ferdinand has vowed being captain of England will not change him.

Ferdinand has arguably profited most from the off-field turmoil that cost John Terry the job he coveted above all others.

Fitness permitting, it will be Ferdinand who leads England into battle for their World Cup opener against the United States in Rustenburg on June 12.

And, should Fabio Capello's men succeed in reaching Soccer City for the final a month later, it will be Ferdinand who has the chance to emulate West Ham legend Bobby Moore by lifting the World Cup for England.

The opportunity is immense, and one that cannot fail to excite even the most laid-back of characters, liek Ferdinand.

Yet the Manchester United defender insists his head will not be turned. And should anyone in England's squad, either the expanded 30-man provisional party — currently minus Gareth Barry — that is preparing for this evening’s friendly with Mexico, or the 23 players Capello will unveil on June 1, want a chat, the 31-year-old will only be too willing to oblige.

“Being captain is a fantastic honour and a responsibility that I warm to,” he said.

“But it is not something that is going to change me. I will conduct myself in exactly the same way.

“Even before I was made captain, the younger players knew I was an easy-going guy who they can approach which, in a way, is more important than being the captain. When you have been to tournaments, you are more capable of being the kind of person that a younger player might need to speak to.”

l Goals from Ivan Rakitic and Drago Gabric secured victory for Croatia in a friendly against a patched-up Wales side last night.

Rakitic hit a stunning strike just before the interval and substitute Gabric wrapped up victory late on.

Wales, denied the services of 15 senior players, performed well in Osijek and Simon Church was unlucky to have a goal disallowed.

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