Rio Happy

Rio Ferdinand says that the warm reception he got from the supporters on Saturday meant almost as much to him as the three points he helped earn for Leeds.

"It was pleasing to get such a reception; it was very important for me - and they know that.

"I played that side of things down before the game, but I was hoping for a good welcome, and I got that.

"I was a bit worried, as I've grown up at West Ham and always given 100%; the fans know that.

"It was pleasing to see that they appreciated that and obviously I appreciate them.

"I clapped them all at end, as they had applauded me at the start - it felt the right thing to do."

Indeed there was more enthusiasm for the end of game gesture from Rio than there was for the goal he scored, and he explains: "I didn't intend that but it didn't feel right to celebrate.

"Normally I go mad and everyone knows what it means to me to score, but it was my intention to just do a job, do it well and get on with it.

"The boys had asked me beforehand what would I do when I score - but I did not want to rub salt into the wounds.

"I was looking down all the time, I didn't think it was right to get too excited, and I didn't see Frank look at me. My teammates jumped all over me but I didn't go crazy.

"It was an emotional occasion and I was more nervous than I've been before a game, though it was a nice nervousness.

"I was here when Tony Cottee came back and always thought I wanted that reception if I left and came back.

"I looked for that first fixture when I left and wanted hopefully to be settled down when it came around - that's pretty much the way it has turned out.

"But it was good to see the smiling faces here, the sandwich ladies, the kit man, and people like that."

And Izzie Iriekpen, who left the ground with Rio's Leeds shirt. (Michael Ferrante, incidentally, left with Harry Kewell's).

"Izzie asked me ages ago," says Rio, "so I stuck to the promise."

Rio is currently Leeds' captain and he says: "There's not just one captain, they all are.

"The midfielders were doing their job, tight as a unit and that's how we play, squeezing up on teams.

"We played better than them, and we came with a game plan to close them down.

"With players like Frankie, Joey, Fredi, and Paolo, if you give them space they will hurt you.

"But we won't talk about this as a great result - we have a professional attitude.

"We hopefully don't dwell on what we have done the week before: we've not achieved anything as a team or as individuals yet.

"I don't want to end my career being one of those players with loads of money and nothing to show for it.

"I've already got plenty of cash and a nice car, but I haven't any trophies, and that's what I want more than anything."

Rio says that he is picking things up at Leeds - while of course full of praise for the grounding he got at West Ham.

He explains: "Eddie Gray, Roy Aitken, David O'Leary and Brian Kidd - there are defenders, midfielders, and forwards there with wise old heads.

"But I had a good start in life and I will always remember that. When people started asking for autographs from me as a kid I thought if that ever stops it means I won't be doing my job as anymore."