England captain Rio Ferdinand has revealed he hid the extent of his back problem from Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, which left him "bent over like an old hunchback" and struggling to walk.
Ferdinand is now back in the Red Devils line-up and seemingly through the worst of the injury after pioneering treatment, but he admits it took him a long time to come clean to the club about just how bad the problem was. The turning point was the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in October, when Fernando Torres got away from him easily to fire the Reds in front at Anfield.
Ferdinand told the News of the World: "The day after a game I would waddle into the club like a duck, bent over like an old hunchback."
He added: "I would be hobbling around, unable to train for four or five days. I would be OK to play the next game, but I must have missed 60-70% of training.
"If I'm honest, I didn't make it clear to the gaffer and the club physios that my injury was that serious.
"I just had an incredible desire to play football and had never had to deal with an injury of this scale before.
"But I was summoned into the manager's office after the Liverpool defeat.
"He told me: 'Last season, Torres would not have scored that goal against you'. As soon as he said that, you sit up and take notice.
"When the manager tells you something like that it hits home. So we made a decision to rest it completely before I could return to the team."
Ferdinand received a course of spinal injections to tackle the problem and has been given an orthopaedic cushion to aid his posture when sitting. "I'm training at full pelt now," he added. "Now I just need a run of games to get match-fit. I'm still using the cushion, it helps my posture. I look daft when I'm sat on it in a restaurant - it makes me look really tall. But it has certainly helped."
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