10/03/2011 09:00, Report by Nick Coppack
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Rio: I've changed

Rio Ferdinand is a social networking aficionado and he says using his twitter account (@rioferdy5) has helped change people's perception of him off the field…

Away from the pitch, your Twitter account has proved extremely popular. What first prompted you to delve into the world of social networking?
It was mainly to show people the real me. A lot of people perceive me in a certain way and a lot of that’s down to how the media have chosen to portray me. It’s the image they’ve painted of me. I used to see loads of images in the papers of me with flashy earrings, big diamond chains or gold watches, but that’s not me any more. Obviously it was me at one point, but that was a long time ago, when I was a kid and the money was all new to me. But it’s unfair to use those pictures now. I’m a different person these days. I’m much more mature.

Do you think people understand that now?
Well, Twitter’s been good because it’s given me a platform to show people what I’m really like. I’ve heard people talking about me and they expect me to be on red carpets week in, week out. But I’ve only ever been on two red carpets in my entire life! At least on Twitter people can get an understanding of how you are, rather than how the media portray you. I’ve even had messages from fans thanking me for showing them what life for a professional footballer is really like.

But there are still misconceptions out there about footballers, right?
Definitely. Some people think being a footballer is all about beautiful cars, big holidays and private jets. I swear some people think I get a jet to go down to the shop to buy a pint of milk! When I get on a train people ask me what on earth I’m doing there. They think I must have bought the train or something. It’s weird. I’m on the train because I have to get from A to B and it’s the quickest and most convenient way for me to get there. Little things, like me tweeting when I’m sitting on a train, hopefully help people realise that footballers are actually human.

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