Rio Ferdinand on why Sir Alex Ferguson is the ‘greatest of all time’
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick might have just won a record sixth Super Bowl, but Sir Alex Ferguson remains the greatest manager in the history of sport. So says Rio Ferdinand, who spent more than 11 trophy-laden years playing under the former Manchester United manager at Old Trafford.
Rio says of Belichick: “His achievements and the sustained greatness he has had with different teams within that one organisation is up there with the greatest of all time.
“But in my eyes, Fergie is the best because that’s who I know, what I had and what he did is unbelievable.
“He was the best. He evolved with the changing times and built three or four different teams. Part of that [greatness] is being able to understand your surroundings and evolve with the times. He was brilliant with that.”
Rio even lifted the lid as to what made Ferguson so remarkable, and the truth may be more prosaic than you believe. He adds: “It’s not as complicated as people might think sometimes.
“One of his greatest strengths is knowing people and knowing how to speak to people and treat people.
“He’d make sure relationships stay open and that people know where they stand and the detail they get is both detailed and to the point. There are no grey areas. He was great at that.
“His timing of speaking to people and the way in which he did it is what made him great.
“The art of delegation also made him great. He understood that times were changing and that he was an older guy around a lot of younger people and he needed other people to facilitate what he was doing.
“His ego wasn’t too big that he couldn’t ask for help in areas and let other people have the responsibility to make good of what he was doing. There’s a lot of other people who could take note of that.”
It wasn’t just on the pitch where Rio enjoyed great success – BALANCE asked politely for a return of his cult ITV comedy show Rio’s World Cup Wind-Ups, which saw the defender prank team-mates such as David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and David James ahead of the 2006 World Cup.
Rio says: “It was crazy! I’d love to do that again. It was funny to make and there were some crazy times. That was an era when you could get to the guys and it was easy.
“Why it was so successful was because it brought a different side to a lot of the players that you don’t often see. It softened people. You need to see a bit more of that with some people these days – some people are a little stiff and don’t want to show their real selves.”
Rio was speaking as an ambassador with DNAFit to help raise awareness of the benefits of preventative health. Indeed, the former centre back is looking to get Britain’s schoolchildren fighting fit. At a time when average life expectancy has gone down for the first time in a century, Rio says: “I’d love to have it so that when kids leave school they are geared up to know how to affect their bodies.
“They’re taught sport, which is great. But, as important is knowing how your body needs to be trained and what nutrition fits your body the best.”
On potentially sitting down with the government to help implement change, Rio adds: “That’s having an effect on the next generation. We’d love to be a part of that conversation.” DNAFit helps you make positive changes based on DNA.