England skipper Rio Ferdinand has admitted that Kevin Keegan snubbing him for the Euro 2000 tournament affected him greatly.
Ferdinand, then of Leeds United, was left out of the final squad for that tournament and has revealed that he found the decision very hard to take.
"I didn’t speak to anybody. My pride was hurt that I had to sit and watch the team play. I was feeling in my head that I should be there.
"And I looked at myself and said: ‘Did you work hard enough to be there?’ I just knew in my head what I needed to do to be able to make sure it never happened again.
"I went for a run in the park near my mum’s house with a friend of the family and it felt embarrassing."
Ferdinand has moved on both professionally, to Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side, and mentally, admitting that the disappointment that he felt through missing out on the 2000 squad has allowed him to become the strong character that went on to win numerous honours and captain his country.
He added: "I’ve been there. If I hadn’t had the mental strength, it could have knocked me sideways.
"Up until that point I didn’t have a clear picture. I was just going through my career and if I had carried on that way I would probably be playing for a lower league team now.
"I wouldn’t be here now. I took stock. It was the embarrassment of walking down the road, knowing that people were thinking: ‘He’s not in the England squad any more.’"
Ferdinand also admitted that he is now free from the distractions that affected him earlier in his career.
"Now I’m more experienced and mature," said Ferdinand. "I’m not on the rave scene like I used to be. I used to be on the clubbing circuit when I was young.
"If there were any parties, I would get a phone call. I was the go-to man to find out what was going on. That’s changed now."
Ferdinand is 7/1 with Ladbrokes to lift the World Cup with England in South Africa.