It is the conversation all international national managers dread on the eve of major competitions; having to break the news to some of their charges that they have failed to make the final cut. But, more so, it is the one head-to-head that all footballers pray they will never be selected for.
England captain Rio Ferdinand knows only too well how it feels to fall at the final hurdle, for the Manchester United defender has been on the receiving end of such heartbreaking news in the past. When the final squad list was drawn up for UEFA EURO 2000, Ferdinand’s name was omitted, with Kevin Keegan giving Gareth Southgate the nod ahead of the then 21-year-old centre-half on that occasion, leaving Ferdinand to come to terms with the pain of a work-free summer.
“I’ve been there, I’ve had that talk,” Ferdinand told FIFA.com. “I’ve had that conversation about not being experienced enough, not good enough - however they want to dress it up, it’s just you’re not getting that chance to go on the plane.”
After a summer of contemplation, Ferdinand picked himself up and used the disappointment to his advantage. He said: “I thought about it that summer and went back to training and was a better professional, trained better, trained harder, and became a better player, and I recommend for the younger players to do that as well.”
Now, in the role of Fabio Capello’s leading man, and more worldly-wise, the 31-year-old will call upon that experience to help ease the disappointment of those who fail to make the final 23 when the South African-bound squad is announced next week.
“To have to that said to you is not a nice thing. I’ve been there so I’ve got the experience to try and deal with that. When the time comes I’m sure we’ll deal with that in the right way. But the manager is a top drawer manager and I’m sure he’ll sort that out.”