England captain Rio Ferdinand tells team-mates: Don't come back with regrets

03 June 2010 07:04
No regrets. That was the message from England captain Rio Ferdinand before boarding the plane to Johannesburg.

The 31-year-old is a veteran of three World Cups - having been a squad member in 1998 and played five matches in both 2002 and 2006 - and is adamant he will not leave South Africa wondering 'what if?'

Ferdinand said: 'We are going to be doing our utmost to try and bring this Cup back. We are not there to finish second or get into the semifinals and think that we did a good job because we got past the quarters. We are there to try and win it.

'It's definitely about not coming home with any regrets. I think there have been too many times in the past when that's been the case. This will be my fourth World Cup and I think there has been an element of regret each time.

'I don't want to finish my England career - I hear people are saying this is my last tournament - like that. I don't want it to end on that note.'

Glory hunters: the England squad board the plane before jetting off to South Africa on Wednesday night

Ferdinand highlighted England's 2-1 defeat by Brazil in Shizuko, Japan in the 2002 World Cup as one of his biggest regrets in an England shirt.

Watched by his brother, Sunderland defender Anton, mum Janice and dad Julian, the centre half looked up at his family as the national anthem was played and let his emotions get the better of him.

He said: 'That's when I really changed the way that I look at football in terms of letting emotions get involved in the game.

  'It was Brazil, everyone loves to play against Brazil. It was the quarter-finals. This was really it.

'But there was one incident against Ronaldo that made me think, "Whoa, I don't know if I'm ready."

'He passed the ball into Rivaldo and I just turned to run back towards the goal thinking he was going to do a one-two, but he took one step with me and then came back for the ball and I was still running. I turned round, looked at the sky and thought, "Yeah, this is the World Cup".'

But Ferdinand believes the level of experience within this England squad - who average 39.1 caps each - will be a definite boost for the country's World Cup hopes.

'We have a lot of players who are experienced and have played to a high level in Europe and know what it takes to win,' said the Manchester United defender (below, centre) who was at Nike's 'No More Talk' event on Wednesday along with Wayne Rooney and Ashley Cole.

No more talk: England trio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Cole join forces at NikeTown in London to say farewell to fans ahead of the flight to South Africa

'If you look at other teams who have won things they've all had great experience, which is a good omen for us. The French team that won in 1998 had a lot of experience, as did Italy last time. We've got experience in all the right areas and it's a matter of knitting it all together, working together and becoming a good unit.'

Not that the new England captain's entirely sure where his predecessor, David Beckham, fits in with his role of chief cheerleader in South Africa.

'We keep messing about with him and asking him, "What are you doing with the World Cup squad?" joked Ferdinand. '"Are you coaching? What are you bringing to the table?" Seriously, he's a great ambassador and has great experience. If I need to ask questions sometimes, he might be the person.'

Ferdinand spent Tuesday at Legoland in Windsor with his children, Tate and Lorenz, while seven of the original 30-man squad received the dreaded phone call which ended their World Cup dreams.

Mr Right: Ferdinand has hailed Fabio Capello for his handling of the England team

He insisted no player felt truly safe because manager Capello has shown scant regard for reputation. For this reason, he did not see Theo Walcott's exclusion as a surprise.

'No-one's safe in this squad, as the manager has shown by leaving Theo out,' said Ferdinand.

'He isn't scared to leave out people with big reputations if he feels they won't have a positive impact on the squad. 'It wouldn't have been a surprise if anyone had been left out of the squad, other than Wayne Rooney.

'Reputations may have got in the way in the pastbut (Capello) deals with everything in the right way.

'There's no room for complacency. You can't say to yourself, "If I have two or three bad games I'm still going to play", which was the attitude of some players in the past.'

The England skipper said he hadn't yet spoken to Walcott, but that did not stop him feeling sympathy for the 21-year-old Arsenal winger.

Ferdinand said: 'I can understand that Theo went to the last World Cup as the young protege - as part of his development for this World Cup, really - and it hasn't panned out the way that people maybe would have expected it.

Keeping the faith: Ferdinand is certain Theo Walcott will return to the England squad as a better player after being dropped for the World Cup

'But I'm sure Theo will go away and work hard to hit the manager back between the eyes and make sure that he's part of the next squad that comes after this championship.'

Ferdinand knows exactly how Walcott must be feeling. Ten years ago, the defender, then with West Ham, was one of those culled from Kevin Keegan's final squad before Euro 2000. 'It was the worst feeling in the world - devastation,' he said.

'I wasn't really up for talking to anybody. I wasn't all there when anyone was speaking to me at that point. I was deeply upset, embarrassed, my pride was hurt and stuff. So I dealt with it in the way that I knew.'

Just four months after that crushing disappointment, he moved to Leeds United in an £18million deal and became the world's most expensive defender.

No regrets, remember.

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Source: Daily_Mail