Football

Rio Ferdinand's Rift With Frank Lampard Speaks Volumes About England's "Golden Generation"

Rio Ferdinand's Rift With Frank Lampard Speaks Volumes About England's "Golden Generation"

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand has given an insight as to why the group of players labelled England's 'golden generation' ultimately failed to live up to their potential at major tournaments.

From 2002 through to 2010, England arrived at European Championships and World Cups with a genuine belief that they could go all the way based on a team with a spine featuring some of the best players at teams that were performing consistently well in Europe.

The likes of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, and Wayne Rooney set the base of a fantastic team on paper, but they never quite translate their club form to the international scene and developed a knack for crashing out at the quarter-final stage of the competitions they played in.

While he was conducting an interview as part of BBC’s NFL Thanksgiving special, Rio Ferdinand gave the example of a breakdown in his relationship with Frank Lampard as a reason why these big players couldn't mesh together, because they were so fiercely competitive at club level.

We had a generation that were nicknamed the golden generation of players where expectations were huge for us a national team to go out and win something. And that there is what held us back. Not being able to separate club ties to international football.

I wrote a chapter in my book about Frank Lampard. We grew up together at West Ham, then we went our separate ways. I went to Man Utd and he went to Chelsea. We did everything together from 16 to 21, we roomed together, travelled together, did everything together.

When I went to Man Utd and he went to Chelsea, we stopped talking. We never spoke about it, we just stopped talking. I wrote this chapter at the end of my career, before it went out, out of courtesy I sent it to Frank and asked him if it was okay to include. He text me back saying if he had written a chapter on me, it would have been word for word. Exactly the same.

We didn’t hate each other but I didn’t want to give him anything that he could take back to Chelsea. I didn’t like him anymore really because he was playing for Chelsea. He was getting his hands on a trophy that I wanted. It was an obsession with winning.

We grew apart and didn’t speak. But now we speak. He was at my birthday the other day. What sport can do to a personal relationship is nuts. It’s mad. All for the obsession of winning.

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It's hard to imagine it was just Ferdinand and Lampard who felt that way. There was constant chatter of divisions in that England squad, and this just supports those claims which, looking back, would not have made for a great team spirit.

It's crazy to think that they couldn't get past the fact that they were rivals at club level when it came time to link up and play for England, but we're not complaining, as looking back and wondering why it didn't work out is fare more tolerable for every football fan outside of England than reminiscing on a major tournament win would have been, and would have continued to be for the rest of our existence.

To hear more from Rio Ferdinand, tune in to The NFL Show, Saturday 25 November at 23:45 GMT on BBC One.

Mikey Traynor

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