World Cup 2010: Rio Ferdinand relishing England captaincy

Defender ready to lead his country in South Africa...
England captain Rio Ferdinand is fully aware of what it means to lead his country and is determined to keep his feet on the ground as World Cup fever hots up.

The Manchester United man benefited from the indiscretions of John Terry, who was axed by coach Fabio Capello in a 12-minute meeting earlier this year, and will, if fit, lead his country on football's greatest stage this summer.

The captain must carry not only the hopes of a nation, but also the spirit of his team, and Ferdinand was keen to impress that he fully appreciates the importance of his duties.

"Being captain is a fantastic honour and a responsibility that I warm to," he told the Press Association.

"But it is not something that is going to change me - I will conduct myself in exactly the same way.

"Even before I was made captain, the younger players knew I was an easy-going guy who they can approach which, in a way, is more important than being captain.

"When you have been to tournaments, you are more capable of being the kind of person that a younger player might need to speak to."

This experience should help the defender to avoid the pitfalls of previous campaigns, including the tendency of optimism to turn into overconfidence as the hype builds.

"There is a confidence," added Ferdinand. "But maybe we have been a bit naive in the past and got ourselves caught up in all the emotion that surrounds our country going to a massive tournament.

"People say we are going to win it, but we have respect for the other nations as well."

One ordeal to go through before the competition begins is the selection of Capello's final 23-man squad for South Africa - a cull that can be traumatic for those sent home, as England's captain knows all too well.

"I was left out of Euro 2000 by Kevin Keegan and was devastated," said Ferdinand, who will no doubt have warm and encouraging words for those who miss one of football's cruellest cuts.

"When I look back though it was a blessing in disguise.

"It made me re evaluate myself and the way I treated football.

"I probably did not give the game the respect  it deserved - after that experience I became a better professional, so I should thank Kevin Keegan for that.

"You can't let it kill you, or finish you confidence-wise.

"You have to turn it into a positive."

No trip to South Africa is complete without a visit to its most beautiful and sunniest city. Durban offers much more than sandy beaches, safaris, casinos and the World Cup, for information on what to do and see, please click here.

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