There’s a presumption in England that most defenders which are strong going forward simply can’t defend.
Maicon, Roberto Carlos, Marcelo, Dani Alves, Glen Johnson, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Piqué and David Luiz among others have all fallen foul of this belief at one time or another.
But what stands out above all else is that most of these players are either Brazilian or Spanish. Obviously this isn’t a definitive list, but these two countries do spring to mind, yet are also held up as examples in an idealistic footballing world.
In England growing up, the Sunday League sidelines are full of coaches and dads alike screaming at kids, to either "don’t mess around at the back" or "if in doubt, put it out."
Unless Peckham was the one anomaly of this, it makes it all the more remarkable that Rio Ferdinand was able to excel as a centre-half and not moved into a position further up the pitch. was produced in spite of the system and not because of it.
In fact, he did start out as an attacking midfielder and it was his physical presence that persuaded scouts he could thrive in the heart of a defence.
Perhaps, it was this bit of luck alongside his footballing genes that has taken Rio to the top; brother Anton, cousins Les and Kane are all playing – or have played – to a high standard.
It certainly wasn’t the structure he grew up in, as he has previously criticised. He said on Twitter: "A coaching strategy for our young teams/kids needs to be implemented to see change. In most Premier League teams retaining the ball is done best by foreign players in the team … they are taught to pass to a man with a man on."
The FA were obviously quick to respond that there is work being done to fix the dilemma, though the likelihood is, it will be 10 to 15 years before another English player in the Ferdinand mould comes through by design.
During his younger years, his pace and strength helped mask any doubts over his concentration issues. He often didn’t get the credit he truly deserved: with an ability to hold a high defensive-line pushing the larger forwards away from goal, while his aerial prowess meant he could drop off and allow the quick strikers to be closer to his goalkeeper.
Furthermore, his positioning, organisational proficiency and in-game intelligence have improved throughout his career as his speed has naturally slowed. He was arguably at his peak between 2005 and 2008, when he played over half of his matches for the Red Devils, scoring seven goals. It was fitting that he netted in Sir Alex Ferguson’s farewell match at Old Trafford in May.
Ferdinand is still the highest paid transfer for a defender, as Manchester United sent around £30 million across the M62 to Leeds, despite the fact the move was made eleven years ago.
Nearly 300 appearances and six Premier League titles have ensured this money was well spent. He has not been without his fitness problems, however, and there was certainly a time two years ago when some question marks were raised over recurring back and knee injuries.
The ability to judge his own body limits has been interpreted negatively by some national team fans when he has withdrawn previously from friendlies, but it’s this type of action that has prolonged his career and made such a decision fully justified.
Having rarely been without incident throughout his playing days, it’s this mental strength that will be crucial to the defender’s post-Ferguson era at United.
The English centre-back that was once regarded as brave, throwing himself into challenges and blocks has its place, but in tandem with a more technical defender, if the country is ever going to step up a level.
Though surely, being courageous isn’t mutually exclusive from technique as the likes of Carles Puyol and Rio Ferdinand have demonstrated.