When EDGAR met Rio Ferdinand and Bobby Zamora

The former Premier League stars tell us what it’s like for young players at new clubs and even name their candidates for player of the season.

Meryl D'Souza April 11, 2017

Those of you familiar with Premier League football will have heard of Rio Ferdinand and Bobby Zamora.

For those of you not into the sport, Ferdinand is a Manchester United legend who won numerous titles with the Red Devils including six Premier Leagues and one Champions League. Meanwhile, Zamora played most of his football with relatively smaller clubs usually fighting to stay in the EPL.

We caught up with the former England international pair at Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Hotel as they launched the hotel's football academy. The duo were hosting a two-week soccer course – April 9-15 and 17-21 – with Football Escapes at the hotel's Events Arena.

Since both of you are here for the kids from Football Escape, the advice you are passing onto these kids.
Zamora: Keep practising and listen to your coaches. They know what they’re talking about and they’re only there to help.
Ferdinand: Work hard. It’s the best advice I ever got.  People think it’s a myth, but it’s not. 

How often do you come to Dubai?
Zamora: Once or twice a year. Probably a bit more if there’s work that I need to do.
Ferdinand: I come here a lot. My children love it. We used to be here a lot more with my wife. We always have so many great memories.

Do you have favourite restaurants here?
Zamora: I like COYA, but there are so many great Jumeirah restaurants, I don't even need to leave the hotel.
Ferdinand: Everything along the Jumeirah coastline for me.

Both of you have moved clubs. Bobby more than Rio. How easy is it adjusting to new clubs as a young player? Are they treated like interns with odd jobs?
Zamora: I don’t think it happens so much now but when I was growing up as an apprentice, we had odd jobs that we had to do like cleaning boots and stuff. It’s a good education.
Ferdinand: It wasn’t as bad as that for me but you do have to work at it and you have to be willing to do whatever.

Do you think you’d ever become a manager?
Zamora: Not at present. I don’t think I’m cut out for management. Never say never. I do enjoy being around football. It’s been my life for so many years but I don’t see myself going into management.
Ferdinand: Sometimes I do.

What kind of manager do you think you’d be?
Ferdinand: I’d be a manager who gets the best out of my individuals.

Like a Carlo Ancelotti or Claudio Ranieri?
Ferdinand: Yes, I want my players to express themselves, I don’t want them to be uptight.

Bobby, you were part of the QPR team that lost to give Manchester City its first Premier League title in 43 years in the 2011-12 season. What was that game like?
Zamora: They scored with the last kick of the game. By that time, we knew we were safe. I think if we needed to not concede, we would see that game out. I’m not saying we gave up or anything, but we knew we were safe and took the foot off the pedal a little bit. Rio certainly wasn’t happy about that. He made that clear to us when he joined the club. 

You’ve been all around London during your hey days. Your thoughts on Tottenham’s season so far?
Zamora: They’ve progressed very well over the last few years. With Chelsea running away with the league this season, I think they (Tottenham) are set up very well for next season. 

They also look certain to finish above Arsenal.
Zamora: Yes, they do. That would be their crown. It’s not winning the league, but it’s a big deal for them. 

Rio, your thoughts on Manchester United this season?
Ferdinand: Not doing as well as we’ve expected. I say that only in terms of position though.

The number of times Zlatan has had to come in and bail the team out of trouble is quite remarkable. Especially considering so many thought he’d fail.
Ferdinand: I was one of them. I didn’t think he’d have what it takes to be so good in the league. It’s a hard one. We’ve seen that with the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho taking time to adjust. 

Who would you sign in the summer to help the team out?
Ferdinand: I’d sign someone like Neymar but that’s too difficult to make happen.

Rio, best attacker you’ve played against?
Ferdinand: Hands down Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Bobby, toughest defender you’ve played against?
Zamora: Carvalho. He’s not the quickest or strongest, but very clever when he’s off-the-ball. He’s always pinching or doing whatever he can to distract you.

Player of the year this season?
Zamora: N'Golo Kanté. To win the league twice in two years with two different clubs. That’s exceptional. His work rate tends to get overseen by a lot of people, but he’s very special. 
Ferdinand: Eden Hazard. He’s been the most exciting for me. 

You both look to be in very good shape. What is it about former footballers being in better shape post retirement than while playing?
Zamora: I’ve always wanted to be a bit bigger as a player, but it’s so hard to gain weight when you’re playing because you burn so many calories. Currently, my goal is to get bigger.
Ferdinand: When I was a player, I wasn’t allowed to do weights. I couldn’t get big because I needed to be quick and agile. Now that I don’t have to do that, I get to eat more which is why I look a little healthier whereas when I played I looked a bit sick.