Mike Cockerill chats to Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand about his first trip down under.
Q. It-s your first time in Australia. Were you always curious about coming here?
A. Yes, always but we never had enough time to come. Looking from afar we needed three weeks and I didn-t have enough time to do that with my family. When I retire this is whetting my appetite nicely.
Q. So it-s not too hard to open up the curtains in the morning and see the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House at the moment?
A. The setting, we couldn-t have asked for anything more. It-s unbelievable.
Q. Australian athletes - whether it be in cricket, rugby, football - the rivalry with England has always been there. What has been your impression of the culture of the Australian athletes and what do you respect about them?
A. I respect that they-re always, wherever you look at, are hard working, have a great work ethic and are very professional alongside that talent obviously. You always see that they are always solid and mentally strong as well. That is something to respect about an Australian sportsman or team.
Q. Is there any joy or fun in a pre-season tour or is it just plain hard work?
A. It is all of the above really. It is hard work but it is very enjoyable as well. As an athlete I enjoy getting fit and I enjoy working on fitness and trying to better yourself - that-s what these tours are about. The results come behind that. You want to get through the pre-season unscathed, have no injury issues, and just get fitter day by day.
Q. I-ve seen you with your camera, are you a naturally inquisitive person? Are you here to learn about the country as much as the football?
A. We are not really long enough to get our teeth into that but it is nice to get bits and pieces from local people and I-m interested in things like the food as well. The different cultures that you see on the street was one of the things that first hit me when we landed here. There are so many cultures walking around in the streets. It is really refreshing to see.
Q. It is down to business on Saturday night, have you got any expectations for the game?
A. We-re going to beat you, man. No not really. We want to get fitter as I said. That-s the most important thing and not to pick up any injuries. We want to put on a good show for the fans that are coming to see us and hopefully we can score a few goals for them.
Q. You-re in the process of releasing a book - What has a decade been like at Manchester United? Has the book given you a chance to reflect on the past ten years?
A. Not really reflect. I-m not really one for reflecting too much. In the terms of the book, it is mainly a picture book with some real good text that is kind of highlighting the emotions of certain pictures and certain moments within my career, giving you a bit more depth than you have seen. I-ve really enjoyed doing that and the process of doing that. W alsoe added a little element for the iPad or iPhone which you can put onto an image and a video will come out and will go into a bit more detail and you-ll see some of my teammates that are involved in that (moment). There are some funny bits in there but I have had some great times and looking through the book it does remind me of that.
Q. What is it like being a Manchester United player compared to being a player with another EPL club or somewhere else in Europe? Is there something special or different about being a player for Manchester United?
A. It is the best, man. It is the best. It is an unbelievable feeling to be able to walk out and be a part of Manchester United, a huge club. The history that has gone on before you - to be a part of that and to not only be a part of that but to be a part of a winning team on a regular basis is what you dream about and it is what I play football for. I don-t play football for anything other than to win, day -in day-out.
Q. You have a testimonial coming up. These games are becoming rarer in the modern game, are you proud to have a testimonial seen they are so rare these days?
A. Of course I am. I think that I never really imagined that for one minute when I started at Man United that I would be here for this amount of time and that I would be getting near a testimonial. It-s a proud moment for me, an achievement, an honour to have been a part of this club. It is a great time to celebrate with the fans and the fans can watch it online as well at riotestimonial.com. I think it is a great opportunity for me to share that moment with the fans and I-m really looking forward to it.
Q. Of course you won-t be sharing it with Sir Alex (Ferguson) who has obviously departed but with his departure is it partly the responsibility of the senior players to help with that transition to a new manager?
A. I think that is just natural. I think the new manager (David Moyes) seems a pretty switched on fella and is really really enthusiastic about making sure the club continues the success that we have been achieving over the past few years. To do that, I am sure he knows that there are players that have been in the dressing room a long time who have some good experience to pass on at certain times of the year.
He has got a lot of good staff around him. He has bought experienced guys in with him but he has also lined up with some guys like Phil Neville and Giggsy (Ryan Giggs) that have been here for many years and no the club inside out. That will put him in good stead I am sure.
Q. There is talk about Cesc Fabregas at Manchester United. Do you have a view on him as a player? Is he a Manchester United type of player?
A. I don-t talk about other teams players.
Q. Is the EPL now more competitive or less competitive? People talk about it being a four or five horse race, is it that?
A. This year I am sure it will be between us Manchester City and Chelsea to win the league. Before that it use to be just us or Arsenal, or Arsenal, Man City or Arsenal, Chelsea. I think it is a three horse race this year and you-ll get maybe Tottenham or Arsenal maybe jumping into that at some point. I don-t anyone other than one of the three I mentioned really being up there to win it.
Q. There has been lots of discussion about the future of the England national team. The youth teams in England have struggled of late. What do you think of the future of English football?
A. I hope it is a bright one. I just think in terms of football in general I think it could be a social thing. When I grew up on my estate, where I grew up, you could not walk out the front door without hearing kids screaming and shouting and playing football, kicking balls off walls. Now-a-days do you hear that? Are parents willing to let their kids out of their eyesight so they can-t see them? With the ways things are going in society now-a-days, do you want your kids playing out with the chance of someone doing something silly or snatching them or something like that. That-s the way it is at the moment in the world. Maybe that is having an effect on sports.
Q. Is there some particular things English football needs to do that perhaps would help them turn the corner?
A. I don-t know. If I had the answers to that then I would be the chairman of the FA. I think that there are so many different things that it could be. It could be the way people are coached, it could be the amount of time kids are getting coached for. I-m sure back in the day we had more time playing football. I played football in my estate. I played football at a club - a Sunday league team, I played football at a professional club at West Ham. But when I finished playing for West Ham on A Saturday, I-d go on the estate and play in the afternoons and evenings with my friends so the amount of hours that I had actually had a football at my feet was a lot more than what kids were getting now. That could be one of the reasons.
Q. You made the decision recently to retire from the national team. Are you still very comfortable with that decision?
A. I am very comfortable in that (decision). Obviously I-m not going to lie in that when I see teams qualify for the World Cup that you don-t get a little bit of a twitch and think whoa, it would be nice to go and be a part of that but I-m very comfortable with that decision and where I-m at and I-m more than happy just playing for Manchester United.
Q. You said that that was part of your reason - to extend your Man United career. Are you still enjoying life as an EPL player as much as ever?
A. Definitely, I love it. If you watch us training you will see me screaming and shouting and running around like a ten-year-old. I love it so long let it continue.
Q. Finally, you do a lot of things off the field, is this all preparing you for retirement and what do you think you will doing after you stop playing?
A. Yes, it is. I don-t know what I will be doing (after football). Some days I wake up and think coaching, management, other days I think that do I really want to continue doing that or do I want to step away from the game and go into TV stuff or more with my foundation? I just want to be able to leave the game and give my self options and have options there that I can pick and choose what I want to do and then I-ll be happy.