Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand signed for Premier League new-boys QPR on a free transfer Thursday and revealed he had turned down more lucrative offers in order to return to London.
Ferdinand agreed a one-year deal with the Hoops, ending his search for a new club following his release by United when his contract expired last month.
The 35-year-old was keen to move back to London, where he was born, and he has decided to rejoin QPR boss Harry Redknapp, who handed him his professional debut when the pair worked together at West Ham.
Ferdinand revealed the prospect of turning out for a club he admired as a boy also persuaded him to move to Loftus Road, where his brother Anton and cousin Les both played with distinction.
“I used to sit in the stands, my dad used bring me here as a young boy. There are great memories for me here and for my family,” Ferdinand told QPR’s website.
“Anton had nothing but good things to say about QPR and I watched Les (Ferdinand) here as a boy, with the likes of Ray Wilkins, Clive Wilson, David Bardsley and Alan McDonald.”
Ferdinand, who won six Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League during his 12-year spell with United, is Redknapp’s first close-season signing after guiding QPR back into the Premier League via the Championship play-offs.
And the former England centre-back admitted he had turned down several more lucrative offers from across the world to sign for QPR.
“I spoke to Harry and (owner) Tony Fernandes at length. I think they both looked me in the eye and knew that I still have something to offer — that I had a genuine desire to come here and play football,” Ferdinand added.
“I had a lot of offers from all over the world — some in places with a better climate than here.But the draw for me was to play in the Premier League and back here where it all started.
“It’s not about money. I had loads of more lucrative offers available to me.
“I still feel I’ve got something to offer and I’m excited about helping this club cement its place in the Premier League.”
Redknapp has no doubts Ferdinand can still be an effective performer at the highest level despite some underwhelming displays for United last season.
“Rio’s a fantastic player and a great professional. I’m delighted we’ve been able to bring him here,” Redknapp said.
“I signed Rio as a 14 year-old. He was class on the field and off the field then, and he’s continued in that manner throughout his career.
“During his time at Manchester United, he was the best defender in Europe, if not the world.
“To bring him to QPR – when he’s still got so much to offer in terms of his quality, class, experience and know-how – is a remarkable coup for the club.”
Redknapp appears to have found a central defensive partner for Ferdinand after agreeing a fee with Cardiff to sign their England international Steven Caulker.
“We’ve agreed a fee for Steven Caulker, who I like very much,” he told Sky Sports News. “I had him at Tottenham as a player and he’s done very well.
“I think Rio will be a big influence on him. I think for Steven it will be the best education he could ever have in his life to play with Rio.”