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Rio Ferdinand's homegrown XI

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Rio Ferdinand's fantasy XI

Rio Ferdinand has captained Manchester United and England - and even tried his hand at television presenting.

On Sunday he switches his attentions to the airwaves, where he will be taking over BBC Radio 1Xtra as part of their '1Xtra Loves HomeGrown' season.

Ahead of his appearance, Rio played the role of fantasy manager to pick his all-time HomeGrown XI, a UK and Ireland team of footballers who have plied their trade in England.

Ferdinand's 'homegrown' XI

Ferdinand, who will also be spinning the tunes that have inspired him later in the afternoon, declared: "What a team!

"I think they would take on all-comers and I'll be honest, I think would do well in Europe now. I've gone for the players I like, they are pleasing on the eye and they can all play!"

The 30-year-old makes some interesting choices - explaining why he nearly slapped team-mate Anderson when he asked him who John Barnes was - and also wonders why Paul Scholes has never won a player of the year award.

But what do you make of Rio's selection? And do you agree with some of his player assessments?

GOALKEEPER - DAVID SEAMAN

I've chosen David Seaman because he was very calm. He played behind one of the best defences in the Premier League and was always very assured when I played with him and when you watched him.

He always pulled off really good saves but more importantly he sometimes did not have to make eye-catching stops because he was normally in the right position before the ball arrived.

RIGHT-BACK - GARY NEVILLE

It was difficult to choose between Gary and Wes Brown but just for his sheer longevity I went with Gary.

He has been in the game for how many years, I don't know, and won everything there is to win; think about the amount of league championships, two Champions League titles, FA Cups, 80-odd England caps so he deserves to be there - he is a top player.

LEFT-BACK - ASHLEY COLE

Out of the 70-odd caps I have, I've probably played about 65 with Ashley alongside me.

He's a very talented footballer, quick and one of the best left-backs in the world at the moment and he's been doing it for a number of years. He's playing really well again this season and he's someone you would rather have on your side than against you.

CENTRE-BACK - DES WALKER

I used to love him when I was a kid. For an England player to have a song about you that goes You'll never beat Des Walker says it all really.

606: DEBATE

He was brilliant and the back four at the time relied on him a lot to cover up a lot of other people's mistakes - that's my own personal opinion. That's why he gets in my team and he was very hard to play against, I can imagine; quick, strong and determined, so he would be wearing number six.

CENTRE-BACK - RIO FERDINAND

I would be wearing number five as I've got to put myself in there, whether I'm good enough or not - who knows? I'm picking the team, so I make the decisions, I'm the manager!

LEFT MIDFIELD - RYAN GIGGS

He's a great player, an inspiration to any young player out there and a one-club man. He has won everything there is to win, is the most decorated player in British football bar none and he's continuing to win many more trophies.

He has got the most appearances in a Manchester United shirt, 700-odd I think, and that says it all. Someone who is just a great all-round footballer. He used to dribble a lot more than he does but his game has evolved now. He's passing the ball through teams, he's scoring the odd goal so he's definitely in there.

RIGHT MIDFIELD - JOHN BARNES

One of my heroes as a kid, I know he was a left winger but he has to be in my team. Ryan Giggs is on the left, John Barnes is on the right cutting in and whipping the ball into the top corners.

John Barnes
I was telling Anderson about John Barnes and he said 'who?' I almost had to slap him

Rio Ferdinand

For a winger to be scoring 20-30 goals a season, which he was doing at Liverpool, says it all. Cristiano Ronaldo's doing it now, scoring 42 last season, but Barnes was doing it years ago and he was twisting people up left, right and centre. I used to love him, I had videos, the lot.

When I see him I salute him every time. He even sent me his actual FA Cup final shirt, I begged him to sell it to me, the one with Crown Paints on the front.

He was the most underrated player ever to play football in England. He wasn't appreciated, he was ahead of his time, he was doing things that Thierry Henry, Ronaldo, all these guys are doing now; whipping the ball in the top corner, going past players like they weren't even there.

If he had played in the 1986 World Cup, England would have got further. He was brought on in the quarter-finals and he set up a goal against Argentina. I was telling Anderson about John Barnes and he said "who?" I almost had to slap him.

CENTRE MIDFIELD - ROY KEANE

Keane would be my captain. He's a leader among men. He's a fantastic footballer, won it all, and he could take the game by the scruff of the neck and change it when needed. He kept it simple and demanded the standards were always high on the training field as well, which is what you need sometimes.

CENTRE MIDFIELD - PAUL SCHOLES

Scholes is a footballer's footballer. How he has not won the Player of the Year trophy I will never know. Maybe because he has not done enough interviews and he doesn't put himself out there. He is the man.

Tell him to hit anything on a training pitch and he will hit it. He will put a ball anywhere you want it. He's a top player and a great lad as well, he also scores great goals.

STRIKER - WAYNE ROONEY

This is so hard to choose my forward line but Wayne Rooney will have to go in the number 10 jersey. He likes that number as he always tells me, he's a number 10 player, he reckons.

I don't want to give him too much of a boost!

Ferdinand on Wayne Rooney

Wayne is going to break records with England. Appearance-wise I'd say he will get into the 100s if he continues to do what he's doing. People keep talking about his goalscoring record but in nearly 50 games he has got 20-odd goals.

He's improving all the time and people forget he's 23 and this kid can win games on his own. His work ethic and everything about him speaks of a top player. I don't want to speak too much about him because he'll come in the changing room laughing and saying "yeah man you think I'm a good player" so I don't want to give him too much of a boost!

STRIKER - GEORGE BEST

One of the best players to play football, he would be one of my top five ever to kick a ball. He had individual brilliance as well as a team player. He won the European Cup and he won the league a few times, and he did all that being a superstar.

To do that under that type of pressure is something to admire. I just wish we had a few more videos of him because when I was younger I was a sucker for buying them to try to learn more about players.

Being a Manchester United player now you hear all these great stories about him, he's consistently talked about and regarded as one of the best players to ever to kick a ball, so he has to be in my XI.

SUBSTITUTES

Paul Gascoigne, Paul Ince, Ian Wright and Frank Lampard.

The HomeGrown XI is broadcast on Sunday 9 Nov from 1-2pm GMT. It goes out as a part of 1Xtra Loves HomeGrown - a season featuring UK stars Craig David, Estelle and Goldie. After Sunday's show, hear Rio on his favourite UK tracks past and present, his pre-match psych-up tunes and much more.

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see also
England pre-Capello was 'circus'
15 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Ferdinand condemns Fifa on racism
08 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Ferdinand in Nigerian pledge
09 Jun 08 |  African


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