The emergence of Rio Ferdinand marked a shift away from the traditional English centre back.
When the boy from Peckham broke into the West Ham United first team in the late nineties, he dispelled the idea that defenders were just there to kick lumps out of the opposition striker.
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Ferdinand’s athleticism and technical ability demonstrated that not only could he mix it with a bulldozing centre forward, but he can also receive a pass into feet, side step a would-be tackler and launch an attack with a pinpoint pass.
Ferdinand’s ball playing skills were honed in West Ham’s finishing school, under the guidance of the Hammers’ academy director, Tony Carr.
FFT joined Carr on the training ground with the Nike Academy as he took the players through a drill he worked on with the England international.
“What we tried to establish was the principle of getting your defence to spread wide, to get your full-backs to push on and play in advance of your centre backs,” he explained to FFT.
“You want to your centre backs to be confident on the ball and not be afraid to receive it into feet and play their way out.
“The key to it is confidence and being patient with the ball. Don’t try and force it and don't be afraid to play into players that are marked. The player must have a picture in their mind before they receive the pass. It takes a high level of skill, but that can be coached.”
Rather than panic and hoof it long, learn how to upstage the playmakers with the help of this training video.
Tony Carr is head coach for EA SPORTS’ Love Football Play Football campaign, enabling FIFA 12 fans to transfer their gaming skills from their thumbs to their feet. Watch more exclusive tutorials with Tony starring Wayne Rooney and Vincent Kompany at www.YouTube.com/easportsfootball
Tony Carr: Getting the best out of your widemen
Tony Carr: Playing off the target man
Tony Carr: Hitting a team on the counter-attack
Tony Carr: Finishing from crosses
Tony Carr: Switching play
Tony Carr: Making the killer pass