Rio reveals hopes for Euro 2008

September 7, 2007

Rio Ferdinand has revealed his burning desire to finally feature in the European Championship finals for the first time next summer after missing out on the previous two tournaments.

Ferdinand was an up and coming youngster when the then England head coach Kevin Keegan preferred Gareth Barry, operating as a central defender at that time for Aston Villa, to Ferdinand for Euro 2000.

Then, four years later, Ferdinand was in the middle of the ban imposed for failing to attend a routine drugs test at Manchester United's Carrington training ground.

Now there is a doubt over whether England will qualify for the 2008 finals after a stuttering start to their campaign left them in fourth spot at the end of last season.

But they have four of the remaining five games at the new Wembley - starting with Israel on Saturday evening - and Ferdinand wants to help them clinch a place in Austria and Switzerland next summer.

He said: 'I want to play in a European Championship finals. Definitely. I have been to a few World Cups and really enjoyed the occasions.

'Now I really really want to do something in the European Championships. This is a time when we really need to go there next summer and put our stamp on it.

'We need to qualify first but hopefully, if we get there, it will be an opportunity for this generation of players that I have been involved in to do well.

'I would love for us at the end of it to be able to hold our heads up high and say `we've achieved something with England'.

'This is a great opportunity for us. These are fantastic games coming up, it is the new Wembley, we couldn't have many more things going for us and incentives to do well.

'Wembley is a fantastic stadium, the home of English football, and with four of our last five games there at the end of a qualifying campaign, you would ask for that if you could before the draw was made.'

Ferdinand knows the importance of England making Wembley into a fortress after drawing there with Brazil in June and losing to Germany last month.

He said: 'I don't think it has had time yet to be a fortress be honest. I don't think we have given the fans the results to really get behind us yet.

'To make it become that, now is the time to deliver. If we are sitting here in the summer and we have qualified and won every game at home, then I think everyone's views will change on whether it is a fortress or not.

'I think it is up to us to make it a fortress. I don't think it's down to the fans, I think results breed that and we haven't got wins yet at the new stadium.

'But there have been positive points in each of the two games that we can draw on so hopefully we can build on that and make Wembley be what we want it to be.'