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Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 06:46 GMT 07:46 UK
Anton his own man
Anton Ferdinand in pre-season action
Anton does not want to be compared with his brother

By the age of 16, Anton Ferdinand was already a star of The Premiership.

He appeared either side of the advert breaks on ITV's Saturday evening football show, kicking a ball around the garden with his little sister.

Below was a caption which read: "Rio Ferdinand's brother". It's a tag that will be impossible to escape.

Being born into a footballing family rarely guarantees a glittering career - for every Bobby Charlton there are 10 Joel Cantonas - but Anton Ferdinand has every chance of joining his brother in the big time.


I play my own game; people have always drummed into me that Rio and I are different players, and that is the right way to go about it
Anton Ferdinand

Comparisons with Britain's costliest footballer will no doubt dominate his early career.

For the time being though, the two are worlds apart.

While Rio was tying up a 70,000-a-week contract to join the world's richest club, Anton was signing a new deal with West Ham on a trainee wage.

As Rio spends the season chasing Champions League glory, Anton will be slogging it out on the training ground hoping to get a run of games in the reserves.

Yet there are similarities.

Anton is a defender who is comfortable on the ball. He is quick and reads the game superbly.

Rio also started his career at West ham
Rio Ferdinand is a hard act to follow

His lanky but somehow graceful gait is also strikingly familiar.

But likening Anton to his superstar sibling is prone to do more harm than good, a fact the 17-year-old knows only too well.

He says: "I play my own game; people have always drummed into me that Rio and I are different players, and that is the right way to go about it.

"I am not him, so it is not the same; I'd want to follow in his footsteps, but I'm Anton, not Rio."

The view among Hammers backroom staff is that, while Anton is a huge talent, he will take longer to develop than his brother.


Anton has obviously got his big brother to look up to and that makes it hard for him, there is no doubt about that
Glenn Roeder

The "more haste, less speed" policy that has seen starlets such as Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe eased gently into the first team looks set to be employed again.

Manager Glenn Roeder believes Anton's surname is his biggest obstacle.

"Anton has obviously got his big brother to look up to and that makes it hard for him, there is no doubt about that," he says.

Nevertheless, the Hammers boss showed considerable faith in the youngster by offering him a three-year deal this summer.

At Upton Park, Rio Ferdinand is still held in high esteem. He is regarded as a gentleman, a future England captain and a talent to rival any in the world.

But more than anything, Rio is regarded as unique.

By definition, this makes any comparison with Anton irrelevant. If the player is allowed to progress at his own pace, he can become a star in his own right.

Some may remember that when Rio first broke into the West Ham side, he had a tag of his own. He was hailed as the cousin of Les.

Over the next few years, he might just become the brother of Anton.


Talent of tomorrow

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