Ferdinand takes No27 in #50GreatestHammers

Our #50GreatestHammers countdown, in association with Official Investment Partner Basset & Gold, reaches  No27 with former Hammer of the Year and England international Rio Ferdinand...

St​a​y close to the West Ham United website as we count down the #50GreatestHammers in our Club's history, and look out for how you can get involved in deciding the top ten!

Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand

Years at West Ham: 1995-2000

Appearances: 158 

Goals: Two

In a time when West Ham United’s famous Academy produced a host of stand-out talent, there’s a serious claim for Rio Ferdinand to top them all. 

Fifteen trophies won in a storybook career, as well as six Premier League Team of the Year inclusions, a FIFPro World XI spot in 2007/08, and a place in the English Football Hall of Fame, all indicates a highly successful spell in football for Ferdinand. 

And it was a journey that began with West Ham. 

Signed to the West Ham youth system as a 13-year-old in 1992, Ferdinand quickly began to show his ability. A Youth Training Scheme contract was penned in January 1994, before a debut for the senor side on May 5 1996. 

That day, a 17-year-old Ferdinand replaced Tony Cottee against Sheffield Wednesday. It was the first appearance of one of English football’s most impressive careers. 

After a brief loan spell with Bournemouth, Ferdinand returned to West Ham and began to establish himself in the starting XI. Seventeen appearances for the Irons in the 1996/97 season turned into 46 in the 1997/98 – the year in which Ferdinand won the Hammer of the Year award at the tender age of 19 for his maturity and tenacity in the heart of defence. 



Ferdinand’s stock was constantly on the rise. An England debut came in 1997, at 19-years-old, making him the youngest defender to play for the Three Lions at the time. Ferdinand would be named a back-up for the 1998 World Cup; a reward for his performances in the season prior.

The 1998/99 campaign saw West Ham secure their best ever Premier League finish, claiming fifth. The side also won the UEFA Intertoto Cup. Ferdinand’s contribution was crucial to those successes. 

Such was Ferdinand’s obvious quality, that when the centre-back departed West Ham for Leeds in 2000, the Hammers received a then-British transfer record fee – an amount that also saw Ferdinand become the world’s most expensive defender. 

Still well received by the Claret and Blue faithful, Ferdinand stands as testament to the work and quality of the West Ham United Academy. A young player who grabbed his chance to shine, Ferdinand remains one of West Ham’s best ever graduates.