EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

"My back is fine now and hopefully I can put the niggling calf problems I’ve had this season behind me. I feel good and to be involved in big games at this stage of the season fighting for trophies is what you want as a footballer."

- Rio Ferdinand
05/05/2011 11:49, Report by Gemma Thompson

Rio: I'm back to my best

Rio Ferdinand tells United Review he is firing on all cylinders...

We’ve created a little bit of history by not conceding away from home throughout the Champions League campaign. That must be pleasing for the defenders…
Of course, but if we don’t win the trophy, it counts for nothing. This is our fourth semi-final in five years which is a big achievement. But, ultimately, we’ve only won the competition once in that time so there’s been a lot of disappointment. We want that to change.

The manager said recently that while this team may not have the ‘Ronaldo factor’, it has a determination and spirit that drives everyone forward and makes us very hard to beat…
I think as a team we’re starting to realise that now. You look around the changing room and you know you can rely on every individual to do their job and work hard for the team.

You must be pleased to be playing regularly at this stage of the season after a couple of niggling injuries…
I’m always happiest when I’m playing. People keep going on about how many games I’ve missed and, compared to the usual amount I play, you could say it’s been a bit of a sporadic season for me. But I’ve been pleased with my performances and I feel back to my best now.

What have you made of Chris Smalling’s efforts in your absence?
He’s been fantastic. I think he and Jonny [Evans] are great young players with big futures at this club, and in time I’m sure those two will be the bedrock of the team.

Smalling is seen as your natural successor but do you feel you’ve got plenty more left in the tank yet?
Yes, definitely. My back is fine now and hopefully I can put the niggling calf problems I’ve had this season behind me. I feel good and to be involved in big games at this stage of the season fighting for trophies is what you want as a footballer. We just need to make sure we get the job done.

More: Rio's Champions League highlights | Smalling: Confidence is high

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