We think it is fair to say that the Rio Ferdinand move to Leeds United was a fairly big deal in the year 2000.
It feels like a very, very long time since David O’Leary and Peter Ridsdale were splashing the cash like excited children frivolously spending their birthday money on Lego. Indeed, it speaks volumes that Leeds United have not since come close to the transfer bills the pair were accumulating between 1998 and 2002; splashing cash on the likes of Robbie Fowler, Seth Johnson, Olivier Dacourt, Mark Viduka. Each performing to varying standards. Mostly bad (Viduka was a class above the rest, just to make that clear). But there was one other.
Someone who to this day sits at the top of Leeds United record transfer pile: Rio Ferdinand.
We understand there is a certain level of controversy that surrounds the name Rio Ferdinand, owed to his move to Manchester United in 2002, and quite understandably, he is about as popular as a fart in a lift around Elland Road.
However, before he besmirched his name, the former England star was one of the most celebrated acquisitions in the Whites’ long and illustrious history. Not just as the club’s most expensive defender but also the world’s – costing an estimated £18million (as per BBC Sport).
Forged in the furnaces of the famous West Ham United academy system, which has since lost a bit of its spark, Rio Ferdinand represented one of the Hammers’ last great footballing prodigies. Quick, strong, fearless and more unique than this generic description Rio Ferdinand genuinely had it all.
Partnering alongside cult hero Lucas Radebe and Jonathan Woodgate, Ferdinand was an absolute rock at the heart of the Whites defence. A defender way ahead of his time, with a midfielder’s touch and exceptional defensive knowledge to boot, no one came close to his ability. Ferdinand guided his side through the Champions League in 2000/2001 scoring against Deportivo La Coruna along the way and put in a tremendous home-leg performance against Valencia in the semi-final (less we say about the away trip the better). If we were to pick out his greatest season in the white of Leeds United, it would have to be the following year, however. What a player. Every one of his talents seemed to improve tenfold as the Whites pushed into sixth place in the Premier League with the third best defensive record in the competition (36) behind Arsenal (36) and Liverpool (30).
The events which unfolded in 2002 are probably best left unmentioned. *Cough* Manchester United *cough*.
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience