Rio Ferdinand has done the right thing in announcing his retirement from international football: not just for the good of his career but also the evolution of the England team.
The 34-year-old hasn’t played for England in almost two years, since a 2-2 draw with Switzerland during Euro 2012 qualifying. Since then a race row and new managerial appointment in Roy Hodgson has blocked Ferdinand’s path to a recall, leaving him time to focus on club side Manchester United.
And what a focus that has been. Despite suffering from numerous injuries the ageing centre-back has maintained his place in the Old Trafford dressing room and last week scored his first goal since October 2008 (in an England shirt) as United beat Swansea 2-1 on Sir Alex Ferguson’s last home game.
Ferdinand has benefitted from not having to travel Europe with England and his infamous withdrawal before the February international break only fuelled speculation his heart isn’t in it.
Indeed, as Betfair pundit Lee Dixon has previously written, maybe it’s good for England that Ferdinand calls it a day, for Hodgson’s side is now free to develop with younger players. Both he and John Terry have threatened to return to the side before retiring, and this has given Chris Smalling, Joleon Lescott and Gary Cahill the opportunities to stake their claim for a first-team shirt.
After the 2010 World Cup many football betting fans argued we should get rid of the England old guard and start afresh and, although Ferdinand played no part in the tournament because of injury, his name was alongside Terry, Heskey, Joe Cole, even Lampard and Gerrard as those who must now leave.
The 2014 World Cup will certainly be the latter pair’s ultimate international tournament and then, finally, England will have gotten rid of its golden generation (bar Ashley Cole, who appears impervious to bad performances).
Now Hodgson can start afresh and begin building a new generation without the stresses of a previous era, perhaps tempting pundits to put a Football bet on future England glory. Ferdinand has been a loyal servant to England and a credit to his profession, and a return to the set-up would only tarnish that reputation.