'Greedy' Rio desperate to pick up more trophies
Rio Ferdinand would end his career a disappointed man if three Premier League titles and a Champions League success were the pinnacle of his achievements.
The Manchester United defender received recognition for his best season as a professional yesterday when he was named as one of five Premier League stars in the FIFPro team of the year.
Voted for by players from more than 40 countries, the award proves Ferdinand is at the peak of his powers, fulfilling the potential Harry Redknapp first spotted in him as a raw teenager at West Ham.
Ferdinand has always maintained his own assessment would be measured by the number of trophies he has won.
And despite adding two championship medals and a European Cup to his previously meagre haul in the last couple of years, the 29-year-old is not satisfied.
"I am greedy,'' he said. "I want to win more. I will not be looking back on my career for a while yet but if I get to the end and have only won the trophies I currently have, I would be disappointed. I am not happy with what I have at the moment.''
Although Saturday's draw at Everton put a dent in United's title quest, Ferdinand still has high hopes for the campaign ahead.
The Red Devils may be eight points adrift of leaders Liverpool but the Peckham-born star still has plenty of faith in the men around him.
And he is certain, for all their success of recent times, United retain the desire required to compete at the highest level.
"The gauntlet is laid down for us because we want to make history,'' he said. "The Champions League is something we would really like to retain as it has never been done.
"We want to win the Premier League three times on the bounce because it would give us a shot at number four, which no-one has ever done either. People who think we have won enough don't know this group of players. We want to win and we have a squad good enough to give us a realistic chance.''
Old bosses Redknapp and David O'Leary plus Sir Alex Ferguson have always maintained Ferdinand would reach his peak in the latter stages of his career.
As United boss Ferguson feels the £29.1million star could continue for another five years at the highest level, it means Ferdinand should still have some improvement in him
It is not an opinion the Peckham-born player disagrees with.
"I would say the best is still to come,'' he said. "A lot of people said my peak time would be after I was 30 because of the position I play in. I am beginning to feel that way now.''
Sir Alex expects Ferdinand to remain at the heart of Manchester United's defence for the next five years.
"Rio's best years are in front of him,'' said Ferguson. "He is easily going to play for the next five years. He looks after himself and he is very fit so I would expect him to be here for that length of time.''
Many observers have pointed to Ferdinand's recent attack on the 'WAG' culture around the England team during their abysmal 2006 World Cup campaign as evidence of the player's growing desire to take on more responsibility.
Ferguson can see the difference, too, which is why he has been so unequivocal in his statement that Ferdinand will be United's next skipper once Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs finally call it quits.
"Rio has leadership qualities and we are really starting to see maturity in his game,'' said Ferguson. "We always knew that he was good at taking the ball out of defence because he has such wonderful balance and great pace.
"Now we are seeing more edge to his game and more of a contribution in terms of being voluble towards his team-mates. He is much better at that.''
However, as a fan of Italian masters Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini, Ferguson can also see the same elegance in Ferdinand, which is the real attraction of a man who cost a club record £29.1million when he was signed from Leeds in 2002.
"He has always had a natural composure on the ball,'' said Ferguson. "His pace always gets him out of spots of trouble and he has lovely balance. They are three great assets to have in a defender because normally you talk about forwards and wingers being like that.
"All in all, you would have to say the lad has a lot going for him.''