Rio Ferdinand has surprised, well, everyone by announcing his plans to become a professional boxer.
The former Manchester United star, who turns 39 in November, has kept himself fit since hanging up his boots two years ago and accepted the challenge to enter the world of boxing after being approached by Betfair.
"I'm doing this because it's a challenge. I've won titles and now I'm aiming for a belt,” Ferdinand said in a statement. "When Betfair approached me about the challenge, the chance to prove myself in a new sport was a real draw.”
Ferdinand has divided public opinion with his decision to become a boxer.
Some think it’s an ill-advised decision and fear he risks being injured by stepping into the ring, while others have offered their full support to the former England International who now works as a pundit for BT Sport.
Gary Neville trolls Rio on Twitter
Gary Neville reacted to the news by having a cheeky dig at his old teammate’s expense.
The ex-Man Utd right-back tweeted: “Hey @rioferdy5 when you're boxing does [Nemanja] Vidic come in and take the punches whilst you cover round the back with me? 😉“
Neville cheekily suggested that Vidic was the braver of the two legendary centre-backs.
Rio burns Neville with his reply
Rio has now replied to Neville’s tweet - and he’s brilliantly owned the former United captain.
“😂😂😂 Vida did take some hits for us,” Ferdinand wrote. “He might have to come in my corner! Some1 that can take bit responsibility... will leave you out @GNev2”
What a burn!
Reaction to Ferdinand's response
Needless to say, Rio’s followers are loving his reply…
Richie Woodhall: Rio can box professionally
Ferdinand will be coached by Team GB coach and former WBC super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall, who genuinely believes his new client has the potential to box professionally.
"In all honesty, I think Rio can definitely box as a professional given time,” Woodhall was quoted as saying by BBC Sport. He has natural power in his right hand, is extremely fit and is very enthusiastic to learn which is encouraging.
"Style wise, he's very raw and I'll have to develop this, which will take time, but he has all the natural ingredients, height and reach advantages over boxers in his weight division and definitely has potential to win a title in the future."