Former West Ham United boss Harry Redknapp has opened up on Rio Ferdinand’s watershed departure from the club.
Redknapp enjoyed a golden spell managing West Ham between 1994 and 2001 having played 175 times for the club as a winger.
The boyhood Hammer came through the club’s famed academy with the likes of immortal legend Bobby Moore.
Redknapp has a 37% win percentage at West Ham, bringing some fantastic – and some less so – players to East London, playing attractive football along the way.
Redknapp was on the brink of golden Hammers era
The manager turned TV personality oversaw the emergence of West Ham’s golden generation of young talent come through into the first team.
Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Jermaine Defoe and Michael Carrick to name but a few.
But it was the sale of hero Rio Ferdinand to Leeds for a then record £18million that proved to be a watershed moment in West Ham’s history.
Redknapp has told Sky Sports’s Transfer Talk podcast West Ham were on the brink of becoming a force.
But when Ferdinand left, things started to unravel for West Ham and the soon to be sacked Redknapp.
‘I begged Rio not to go’
It was widely believed Ferdinand did not want to leave West Ham when he was sold in 2000.
But Redknapp has now told Sky Sports’s Transfer Talk podcast his efforts to keep Ferdinand at West Ham were fruitless because the defender had his head turned.
“Suddenly it was like gold dust,” Redknapp told Sky Sports’s Transfer Talk podcast regarding West Ham’s batch of young stars emerging from the academy.
“I knew that was the future of the football club. I begged Rio not to go.
“He felt he couldn’t turn it down. I remember getting Rio in my office with Frank Snr.
“(I said to him) ‘Don’t go Rio, give us a couple of years, you can always go to Leeds or Man United’.
“I think he had other people pushing him into going. I think he felt the club was pushing him to go as well.
“That was the first of the lads. Most of them went on to win almost everything. I think if we’d kept them together West Ham could have gone on to become a real force.”
West Ham have never truly recovered
The reality for West Ham is that the club never quite recovered from selling its crown jewels.
West Ham squandered the money they got for Ferdinand on a host of average players.
Relegation followed as Redknapp departed and was replaced by Glenn Roeder.
And the conveyor belt of talent from West Ham’s academy since has never come close to matching that kind of output.
Only Mark Noble and Declan Rice have emerged and established themselves as crucial first team players since. Jeremy Ngakia looks on his way to similar status.
West Ham fans used to call the redeveloped West Stand at their beloved Upton Park the Rio Ferdinand stand with a nod to where they believed the money had been spent.
But even that now is no more after the Boleyn was razed to the ground following West Ham’s move to Stratford.