High Performance Podcast: Rio Ferdinand reveals how drugs ban inspired him

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Man United legend Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand has claimed that his determination to prove people wrong saw him return from his drugs ban stronger than ever before.

In December 2003, it was announced that Ferdinand would serve an eight-month ban for failing to take a drugs test in September of that year. 

This meant that the defender missed the 2004 European Championships, and had to watch on from the sidelines as United surrendered their Premier League title to Arsenal.

Ferdinand believes that he did not gain the support that he deserved at the time, and was written off by people who thought that he would not come back to the sport at the same level as before.

However, he admits that he fed off that, and it motivated him to get into the shape of his life for his comeback.

Speaking to the High Performance Podcast - who GIVEMESPORT has an exclusive partnership with - he said: "You get tarnished with that brush and I was bitter at first. I hated the FA. I hated all the people at England who were speaking in my face, who smiled at me, but then banned me. 

"I used all of that - hate and bitterness - and I used all of that, reading all them articles and all them people saying 'he's the drug cheat' and he's this and that. 'He's not going to come back the same.'

"And when I trained, I saw, I visualised all them people. And then it became again - obsession. I don't think I ever trained as hard and as frequent as I did in that period when I was banned. I trained harder, I was fitter than I've ever been in my life. And that's why when I came back into my first game, I could probably have played two, three games that day."

Ferdinand's attitude certainly paid dividends, as he made his return in a 2-1 win against Liverpool in September 2004, captaining the side at Old Trafford. He would go on to miss just two further league matches that season.

This showed that he was still able to play at the highest level, and it was not long before he was back winning silverware with the Red Devils. 

In the 2006/07 season, United won their first title in four years. They backed that up by winning two more championships on the spin, whilst also triumphing in the Champions League in 2008.

Having received his ban just a month after his 25th birthday, Ferdinand's career could have gone down a different route. He could have easily let his standards slip, or used the ban as an excuse to take a break from football.

He chose another path, though. Instead, he worked harder than ever, determined to prove that he belonged at United.

After his ban, he won five Premier League titles, three League Cups and the Champions League. We think he made his point.

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