CHAMPIONS ARTICLES

Click to main image to browse a gallery of Rio Ferdinand's best photos from the 2012/13 season.

Cast your vote for United's Player of the Year at ManUtd.com/Awards2013

01/05/2013 08:03, Report by James Tuck

Key men: Ferdinand

Some people were willing to write Rio off when he was omitted from England’s Euro 2012 squad last summer, even though he had made 38 appearances for United in 2011/12. Too old, lost his pace and injury-prone were among the accusations. How wrong they were.

A decade after his Reds debut, the 34-year-old enjoyed a vintage campaign at the heart of the defence, having found a way to manage the back problems that have dogged him in recent years.

Rio played happily alongside Jonny Evans during Nemanja Vidic’s spell on the sidelines earlier in the season and reaped the rewards, giving Sir Alex the luxury of choosing between three top centre-halves – with Rio arguably in the best form of the trio.

It didn't go unnoticed: Rio earned an international recall for the first time in nearly two years in March, though he was later forced to withdraw from Roy Hodgson's squad.

The biggest compliment you can give Ferdinand in 2012/13 is that he often went relatively unnoticed, cruising about his box with the effortless grace and positional sense that have always been his hallmarks, en route to another 30-plus-game season.

Champagne moment: October’s trip to Newcastle looked tricky but Rio’s immaculate display, in which he helped suppress dangermen Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, contributed to an impressive 3-0 win.

Season in three words: Still got it.

More: Visit the Champions 2013 section

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