EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

06/08/2013 12:58, Report by Mark Froggatt
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O'Shea: My mate Rio

Ahead of Rio Ferdinand's testimonial, former Reds favourite John O'Shea pays tribute to his ex team-mate in an exclusive column for ManUtd.com...

"When Rio arrived at Old Trafford, looking like John Travolta in that suit, my first impression was that his dress sense was terrible. But you could see he was a classy guy and he soon became a vital part of Manchester United's success.

To be fair, he was usually well dressed and his personality was also so infectious in the dressing room. Of course, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but Rio was always clever and intelligent enough not to cross it - he let his football do the talking.

Because he was so vocal, it was easy to develop an understanding and his partnership with Nemanja Vidic is still one of the best in Europe. Fans compare Vida's toughness with Rio's skill, but believe me, there isn't a centre-forward who would say Rio is a soft touch. He has a mixture of strengths and could be a bit nasty when he had to be.

His all-round ability is what I admire most. He can play the ball, control it and then bring it out from the back. He played a couple of games in midfield and even went in net once! He has good skills, as they say.

Leadership became a huge part of Rio's game and towards the end of my time at United, his influence was clear to see. The likes of Giggsy, Scholesy and Gaz Neville were still there, but Rio had witnessed what they did for him and wanted to do the same for others. Jonny Evans is perhaps the best example of somebody who has benefitted from that.

Rio has always been one of Europe's top defenders and could have joined different clubs at any time, but he's proud to win trophies for United and knows it's the best club for him. You have to respect that. Obviously, the club have shown a lot of loyalty to him too.

Fans ask where he ranks amongst the great United defenders, and I have to say he's got to be up there. It's difficult to compare different generations but you can't argue with his medal collection. There are few better. Such heady praise is more than deserved and I hope he enjoys his testimonial on Friday. Congratulations, Rio."

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