Former England defender Rio Ferdinand has today released a chapter from his autobiography on his official Facebook page, in an exclusive insight of what you can expect to read when it comes on sale tomorrow.
The chapter is centred around the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and what the Queens Park Rangers defender experienced in his time out there. It was the first time he had been at a World Cup as a fan rather than a player so he was able to see the other side of the tournament and the different atmosphere's each countries' fans brought to the place.
In the first paragraph he writes: "Most nights I would walk along the Copacabana with my friend Jamie, just people-watching. I’d put my cap on and keep walking, hoping not to get recognised because I just wanted to drink in the occasion.
"The best-supported teams were Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Colombia, and their campervans were in all of the side and back streets, covered with flags. Fans had driven across the continent and every night were out partying, drinking and having sing-offs against each other."
He gives an analysis on players he thought stood out at the tournament, and also some of the high-profile names who just didn't live up to their billing as the 'world's best'.
"Colombia had James Rodríguez, who I reckon is going to be the best player in the world within two or three years. He is the heir to the throne of Ronaldo and Messi and was just electrifying. Every time he got the ball he was looking to hurt the opposition with through balls, or making runs, committing people, shooting, setting up chances. And he’s left-footed!
"Somehow, everything just looks better when you’re left-footed. I said before the tournament that he’d be one to watch but I didn’t expect him to be quite as good as he was.
"But other players you wanted to be brilliant never really rose to the occasion. Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar didn’t quite do what we hoped they would do.
"But Thomas Müller was brilliant, as was the whole German team. Schweinsteiger, Kroos and Khedira were great and Neuer, their goalkeeper, was just unbelievable.
"I liked Cuadrado the right-midfielder for Colombia and Alexis Sánchez for Chile as well: exciting players doing exciting things for their countries."
Treated like children
One of the most interesting parts of the chapter is where he talks about the difference in the mentality and approach of the Dutch team and their coaching staff, compared to England's.
Obviously Rio played a big part for England over the course of his 14-year international career, so would have experienced this first-hand, but being in Brazil as a pundit allowed him to witness how other teams relax after a game.
He writes: "Another aspect that impressed me was that Van Gaal treated his players as grown-ups. One evening we were in a bar at the hotel with Fabio Cannavaro, waiting for Christian Vieri to come along. All of a sudden almost the entire Dutch team turn up and start chilling in this bar.
"I sat down next to Sneijder and said ‘What’s going on? Are you allowed in here?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, the manager said to go. As long as we’re back in the hotel by 11, it’s fine.’ Me and Jamie just looked at each other and started laughing.
"Our players are treated like complete babies. It doesn’t really matter whether that’s because people have made mistakes in the past, or the manager doesn’t trust the players or he doesn’t trust the media who would make a story of it. I don’t think the Dutch media even mentioned it."
New philosophy needed
The 35-year-old also talks about the disappointment of England's tournament and how things may never get better if the FA doesn't sort a number of problems out, starting with the philosophy we need to impose, just as the Germans and Dutch have done with their young players early on.
As a current Premier League player and former England international, his opinion is one that should be adhered to and it will be down to the FA and the England coaching staff to monitor and implicate new ideas in order for England to compete at the highest level again.
"In England, people at the top of the game have to come together and agree to create our own philosophy of football to benefit the players we produce. We don’t need to have an inferiority complex towards any football nation. We’ve got players who are as quick and as strong and able as anybody.
"Technically we have some good players but they need to be put in a system that works and which everyone understands and adheres to. At the moment, players have to go from Under 15s, 16s, 17s, 18s, 19s, 20s, 21s, to the first team and every coach at every level is doing something different. The FA is trying to make changes but the approach is nowhere near radical enough.
Praise for German philosophy
"Look at the world champions. In Germany, over the last 15 years or so the clubs and the German FA have worked together on youth development and tactical systems because they all understand and agree that this benefits the players, and this in turn benefits the clubs and the national team.
"We don’t see things that way. The Premier League is completely detached from the ideas and the vision of the FA and vice versa. The barrier has to be broken down. The big clubs have very little interest in the national team. All they care about is what benefits them, and they think mainly in terms of money. Each club develops its own identity and its own way of playing with no thought as to how it might fit with the national team. And the FA is not strong enough to decide on a policy and dictate from the centre."
The entirety of Rio's book goes on sale tomorrow and from the release of this chapter, it looks set to be a very interesting and thought-provoking read into the insight of one of England's best central defenders in recent times.
You can purchase a copy of Rio Ferdinand's book, #2sides, from Thursday. BUY IT HERE