Euro 2012: Ferdinand one of England’s best, says Van der Vaart

Rafael Van der Vaart says Rio Ferdinand is one of England's best defenders and is surprised by his Euro 2012 omission

rafael van der vaart
Rafael van der Vaart is playing at his fifth international tournament Photo: Paul Blank

rafael van der vaart

Rafael van der Vaart has described Rio Ferdinand as one of England’s best defenders, and admits it was a surprise to see the Manchester United centre-half left out of England’s Euro 2012 squad.

The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder has become accustomed to facing Ferdinand since moving to the Premier League from Real Madrid in 2010, and he considers the 33-year-old to still be more than good enough to play at international level.

“It’s strange. I think he’s still one of the best defenders in England and maybe in the world,” Van der Vaart told BBC Sport.

“He’s fit and fresh and he plays for Manchester United so I’m surprised.”

Van der Vaart’s opinion was supported by his Netherlands team-mate Wesley Sneijder, who also conceded Ferdinand’s exclusion came as a shock.

But the Internazionale midfielder believes England still have plenty of quality in their squad despite injuries to Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard and Gary Cahill.

“I think [Rio] was a big surprise – but they have a good team,” said Sneijder.

“We played against them at Wembley and they missed some players there. But they have a good team. They are as strong as ever.”

“They still have a great team. It’s a pity for them that [Frank] Lampard is injured, but they have so many good players.

“They have a new manager, so maybe they’ll play a little bit different now. England are always a danger to play against.”

The 2010 World Cup runners-up face Denmark in their opening game on Saturday, followed by a tricky clash against Germany, before their final Group B match against Portugal on 17 June.

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