Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand: I look back on Bournemouth spell fondly

Tuesday 03 January 2023 16:55

Rio Ferdinand is regarded as a Manchester United legend, but before his illustrious stint at Old Trafford, he spent time on loan to this evening's opponents Bournemouth in the formative years of his career.

It was a temporary move that would play a crucial part in both the person and player he went on to become. 

Ferdinand was so impressive at the age of 18 that Sir Alex Ferguson enquired about signing him from the Cherries, before learning he was only with them on loan from West Ham United.

Five-and-a-half years later, Sir Alex would finally get his man and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. 
Rio eventually made the move to Old Trafford in 2002.
Looking back on his spell with the south-coast outfit, Ferdinand feels the Bournemouth manager at the time, Mel Machin, was a key figure in his development. 

“I was low on confidence and wasn’t playing particularly well,” admitted Rio, in an interview you can read in tonight's United Review.

“Mel Machin showed great confidence by putting me in straight away. He saw something in me and gave me the chance and it immediately instilled confidence in me. 

“Fortunately, I played quite well in my first game and the manager started calling me ‘Class’. 
He continued: “He didn’t call me Rio, he used to say ‘Hey, Class, how you doing?’”

“For a young player coming into senior football, that was amazing.

“Mel was fantastic for me and gave me a ridiculous amount of confidence. He allowed me to flourish and to understand what it was like to play men’s football and what it mean to fans on a Saturday.” 

How to watch and follow United v Bournemouth


The Reds will hope to begin the calendar year in fine fettle, as we prepare to take on the Cherries in M16.

Ferdinand would soon be recalled to his parent club, West Ham, after an injury crisis plagued the London side. Harry Redknapp, then the Hammers boss, was convinced Rio would be a ‘star’. 

And right he was, as the centre-back went on to command a record transfer fee for a defender when he made the switch to Leeds. 

Elland Road would be home for just two years before he was signed by the Reds in 2002, when he began a brilliant 12-year stint with us.
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For all the big money moves, Ferdinand continues to look back on his time at Dean Court with ‘fond memories’. 

“Mel did a lot for me when I was at Bournemouth,” he said.

“I always look back with fond memories on my time there. I loved every minute of my stay.” 

You can read the full interview with Rio Ferdinand in the Bournemouth edition of United Review, available to order online now.