Ferguson and Neville delight at Ferdinand England honour

MANCHESTER United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has welcomed the decision to appoint Rio Ferdinand England captain.

United defender Ferdinand has been handed the armband after England manager Fabio Capello stripped John Terry of the honour.

Ferdinand is not first-choice skipper at Old Trafford – a role occupied by Gary Neville – but has filled in during the full-back’s absence through injury. And Ferguson is delighted the 31-year-old is set to lead out his country at this summer’s World Cup.

“We’re pleased for him,” said Ferguson. “We think it’s great for Manchester United to have one of our players captaining their country.

“Over the years we’ve had Gary [Neville], Bobby Charlton and Bryan Robson of course, who was England captain for something like 60 games, so we’re very proud of that.”

Ferdinand faced competition from team-mate Wayne Rooney, Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard to take over from Terry.

He also has a chequered past: he has served an eight-month ban for missing a drug test in 2003 and is currently suspended for violent conduct.

But Neville insists Ferdinand was the automatic choice.

“It’s a great honour to captain your country,” he said. “Rio’s done very well for England over a long time and he’s vice-captain so he was the natural successor. It’s great for the club to have an England captain.”

Ferdinand’s former team-mate Roy Keane, now manager of Ipswich, added: “Rio will be a good captain, of course he will be. But you can have three or four leaders on the pitch and England are fortunate with that.

“They’ve got Rio, but I think Wayne could do it, or Gerrard.”

Capello sacked Terry as England skipper on Friday following a string of newspaper allegations about the Chelsea captain’s private life. Gerrard replaced Ferdinand as vice-captain following the reshuffle.