Skip to main content

On this day in 2000: Leeds and West Ham agree £18million fee for Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand Leeds United
(Image credit: Phil Noble)

Rio Ferdinand became the world’s most expensive defender on this day in 2000 when Leeds’ £18million bid was finally accepted by West Ham.

Ferdinand, then 22, rubber-stamped the deal a few days later when he signed a five-and-a-half-year contract.

He was paraded in front of the Leeds fans at Elland Road before their home game against Arsenal on November 26.

Ferdinand was introduced to Leeds fans at Elland Road before their Premier League win against Arsenal in November 2000

Ferdinand was introduced to Leeds fans at Elland Road before their Premier League win against Arsenal in November 2000 (John Giles/PA)

The deal shattered the previous world record for a defender of £13million paid by Roma for Argentina’s Walter Samuel. It was also a British record, eclipsing the £15million paid for Alan Shearer and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Ferdinand made his Leeds debut on December 2 at Leicester and it was one to forget as David O’Leary’s team found themselves 3-0 down after just half-an-hour, eventually losing 3-1.

It was the first of 53 Premier League appearances Ferdinand made during his 18 months at Elland Road and he was Leeds’ captain in both legs of their Champions League semi-final against Valencia in 2001.

Ferdinand later revealed during his work as a pundit for BT Sport that his time spent at Leeds was the “most enjoyable” of his playing career.

Ferdinand, centre, captained Leeds during both legs of their Champions League semi-final against Valencia

Ferdinand, centre, captained Leeds during both legs of their Champions League semi-final against Valencia (Gareth Copley/PA)

In the summer of 2002, Ferdinand became Britain’s most expensive player for a second time after a high-profile move to Leeds’ arch-rivals Manchester United for £30m.

At Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson, Ferdinand established himself as one of the world’s outstanding defenders.

He won 10 major trophies with Ferguson’s side, including six Premier League titles and a Champions League, and made a total of 81 appearances for his country.