Date: 26th March 2008 at 3:08pm
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Rio Ferdinand will captain England tonight in Paris.

Finally, it seems Capello have realised that the matter of England captaincy should not be decided among Steven Gerrard and John Terry as both managed to show last week why they are not fit for the role: Terry at White Hart Lane when he failed to restrain Ashley Cole, in fact he actively participated in harassing Riley; Gerrard was nowhere to be seen as Javier Mascherano ran the length of the Old Trafford pitch to get himself sent off.

Rio Ferdinand, meanwhile, accepted a harsh booking without a word and despite Torres’ constant moaning and diving, he never resorted to underhand tactics and did not complain to the ref. After years of being perceived, more often rightly than not, as lazy and too relaxed. His attitude often caused problems for United, not least when he missed that drugs test. But his last two seasons were wonderful and he’s the best choice to replace Gary Neville as captain.

He is now appointed as England captain for this game and on merit he should be given the role permanently. His role model is an obvious one.

‘Roy Keane was a fantastic captain. He led by example and played ever so well, getting marks of seven, eight or nine out of 10 every game,’ said Ferdinand.

‘He was a man amongst men and, if questions need to be answered he was normally the first or second person to do that. He was a great captain and symbolic of Manchester United.

‘Now for me to get the captaincy for my country is a dream come true and this is the biggest honour I’ve ever had.

‘Of course, winning titles is unbelievable as well but I don’t think you can compare the two to be honest. This is a great honour in itself.

‘How many people are named as England captain? Not many and to be named alongside list of illustrious players is a great achievement in itself.

‘I’ll be wearing that armband with as much pride as anyone in the past.’


I have no doubt about this, and as I said, Rio deserved it. But is it a good thing?

The England captaincy has, in the past, blurred the priorities of players. David Beckham always seemed to play better for England between 2001 and 2003 than United. John Terry is no more the commanding defender he used to be as his ego seems to be overinflated what with being skipper and all that.

The spotlight is on the England captain all the time, every single little mistake of his is blasted by fans and press alike, he is vilified if he puts a foot wrong – particularly if he’s a Manchester United player as the ABUs are glad for any excuses that might allow them to self-righteously slate any Red.

Fortunately, Rio has learnt everything the hard way, after being lauded as the second coming of Bobby Moore for his performances at World Cup 2002. But he relaxed his guard, his commitment afterwards, no denying that. But, hopefully, he now knows what the consequences are and will not commit the same mistakes – as he promised not to.

Of course it’s not certain he’ll be made permanent captain though I think he’s the outstanding candidate. To be honest though, my main concern is not whether he gets the armband or who gets it. My main concern is if Capello opts to trust this job to him, his United performances will not suffer. You can wheel out all that patriotism stuff but for me, the club is the first.