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Sunday, 9 June, 2002, 23:21 GMT 00:21 UK

Rio Ferdinand

Club: Leeds United
Position: Defender

Rio Ferdinand, the most expensive defender in English football, is Sven-Goran Eriksson's first-choice centre-back.

Fitness and form-wise he has been the most consistent defender among those in the shake-up for a squad place this season.

Elegant as well as intelligent, Ferdinand is perhaps his country's first true ball-playing defender since World Cup-winning skipper Bobby Moore.

His determination to thread rather than hoof the ball out of defence has led to the occasional error at international level when he has been caught in possession.

But Eriksson, who admires his pace and ability in the air as well as on the ground, is keen to encourage his cultured approach to the game.

His performances under Harry Redknapp at West Ham made it clear that he would become a huge star.

And, after the heartbreak of being left out of the Euro 2000 squad, he joined Leeds for 18m in November of that year.

He is now the leader of England's back-line and capable of neutralising the best strikers in the world - as he demonstrated when England beat Argentina 1-0 in their Group F encounter in Sapporo.


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