Rio Ferdinand has explained his thoughts behind England’s ‘Golden Generation’ of footballers’ failure to win a major international trophy.
The ex-Manchester United and Three Lions star spoke to BBC Sport as part of the network’s NFL Thanksgiving special, and was quizzed about why England’s hugely talented crop of players didn’t end their nation’s long wait for silverware.
Ferdinand was part of a supremely talented squad alongside the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham and John Terry who couldn’t find a way to lift a first trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
And, when asked why he thought that was, the former centre-back revealed that it was to do with the growing belief among England’s squad that their club allegiances came before their national side’s.
Citing his friendship with former West Ham teammate Lampard – a relationship which deteiorated when the duo left Upton Park to join United and Chelsea respectively – Ferdinand explained how each player’s ties to their respective clubs hampered their international ambitions.
He said: “We had a generation that were nicknamed the golden generation of players where expectations were huge for us a national team to go out and win something. And that there is what held us back. Not being able to separate club ties to international football.
People wonder why England struggle and big players can’t seem to perform or play together! Watch this and it’ll answer a lot of those questions! Club football bigger to English footballers 🏴
— Ryan Johnston (@CCFCRJ) November 24, 2017
“I wrote a chapter in my book about Frank Lampard. We grew up together at West Ham, then we went our separate ways. I went to Man Utd and he went to Chelsea. We did everything together from 16 to 21, we roomed together, travelled together, did everything together.
“When I went to Man Utd and he went to Chelsea, we stopped talking. We never spoke about it, we just stopped talking.
“I wrote this chapter at the end of my career, before it went out, out of courtesy I sent it to Frank and asked him if it was okay to include. He text me back saying if he had written a chapter on me, it would have been word for word. Exactly the same.
Obsession of winning? They clearly weren’t obsessed enough with winning for England. Obsessed with their ego more like.
— Ben Randall (@Benjmeister85) November 24, 2017
“We didn’t hate each other but I didn’t want to give him anything that he could take back to Chelsea. I didn’t like him anymore really because he was playing for Chelsea. He was getting his hands on a trophy that I wanted. It was an obsession with winning.
“We grew apart and didn’t speak. But now we speak. He was at my birthday the other day. What sport can do to a personal relationship is nuts. It’s mad. All for the obsession of winning.”
To hear more from Rio Ferdinand, tune in to The NFL Show, Saturday 25 November at 23:45 GMT on BBC One.