Rio Ferdinand arrived at Old Trafford on 22 July 2002 swathed in cream suit and Cockney confidence, his £29million fee a world transfer record for a defender; and yet aside from the prominent pomp and panache, he managed to live up to the hype, ultimately letting his football do the talking.
"I want to win trophies and titles," he told the world's media, gathered to witness his unveiling. "That's why I am here. I'm aware of this club's history and of what I can achieve here. When you walk in and see pictures of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, you realise what this club means."
Fulfilling potential was also on Sir Alex Ferguson's mind when he signed the 23-year-old. "There is great potential there," he said, "and from what we know we think Rio will develop into the best centre-half in the world." That is a subjective title, but at several points throughout his 455 club appearances in 12 years at Old Trafford, Ferdinand was widely regarded as exactly that: the best in the business of classy, ball-playing centre-halves.
Pace, power, anticipation, acceleration, his reading of situations, timing of tackles and confidence and control on the ball set him apart, lending a continental presence to a position, in this country at least, which had been dominated by the no-nonsense, battle-hardened centre-back troops of yore.
It was a case of style as well as substance as Rio lived up to his aim of winning trophies in Manchester, hoarding 15