Rio Ferdinand’s caring approach to young team-mates was inspired by his first training camp with England where “very few wanted to talk to” him.
The Manchester United legend made 81 caps for the Three Lions, with the first of which coming under Glenn Hoddle less than a year before the 1998 World Cup. His debut came in an international friendly against Cameroon, where he enjoyed a smooth 51 minutes in a 2-0 victory.
But while the first international cap holds a special place in most player’s hearts, Ferdinand claimed the welcome he received from his international compatriots left plenty to be desired. And the former England captain alluded to his first impressions of international football to highlight what senior players must do to help their younger counterparts.
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“I would always make them feel comfortable, whether it was on the training pitch or in the hotel, wherever it was, I’d always give them that bit of time to calm their nerves,” Ferdinand said on the Vibe with Five podcast. when asked about his approach to helping young players. “I had it when I went into England as a kid in my first squad.
“A few people didn’t really talk to me or greet me like I thought I should have as a young player. I thought I don’t ever want a young player to feel like that again.”
Ferdinand was part of the core group of senior players that helped mould Cristiano Ronaldo, when he was a little known raw talent at Old Trafford. And Ferdinand explained young players are always nervous when they make the daunting, mountainous like transition from the youth team to the first.
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“I think it’s making them feel comfortable in that new environment,” Ferdinand added. “It’s daunting and it’s intimidating coming into the first team changing room and then going training with the first team. All these people would have been on your walls as superstars, you have already seen them on TV and all of a sudden you’re in that changing room.
“Whatever level it is, it’s different, it’s harder, it’s a more harsh environment. I always took it upon myself to make young players feel comfortable in that environment.
“I think if you spoke to a lot of young players at Manchester United, who came into the first team from [Tom] Cleverley, [Danny] Welbeck, Anderson, Nani, Cristiano [Ronaldo], Rooney, to [Jesse] Lingard, Lee Martin, Chris Eagles, etc, I think they would all tell you I would always give them time.”
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