John Terry vs Rio Ferdinand: Which former England player was the best Premier League centre-back?


Once partners of the England centre-back, now Rio Ferdinand and John Terry argue on Twitter about their egos and who was the better player.

The row erupted when Ferdinand ranked as the best centre-back in the Premier League on his BT Sport show, placing Terry fifth.

“Opinions are great, but the stats don’t lie,” former Chelsea skipper Terry wrote in a social media post, alongside charts showing his career stats.

Ferdinand fired back saying Terry was lucky to be in his top five after the high profile racism case involving his brother Anton Ferdinand – Terry was found not guilty of racially abusing Ferdinand in the court case of 2011.

So, as they both battle over who is better, Planet Sport takes a look at their careers to see if there’s a clear winner.

John Terry vs. Rio Ferdinand Stats

In the form of a geeky Shakira, Terry proclaimed that the stats don’t lie, so let’s take a closer look at them.

They both played a similar number of Premier League games and both had great success throughout their careers.

Terry spent 19 years with Chelsea and became the most successful captain of all time at Stamford Bridge as well as their best defender.

His partnership with Ricardo Carvalho became one of the best in Premier League history as Chelsea under Jose Mourinho became the toughest defensive nut to crack in the league.

Ferdinand went from West Ham to Leeds to Manchester United, breaking the transfer record twice and he eventually captained the Red Devils and won 14 trophies himself.

Terry says the stats don’t lie, and he’s certainly right to put the pair head-to-head in the major categories.

Terry: PL Games: 492 | Goals: 41 | Won: 311 | To win%: 63 | Clean sheets: 214 | CS %: 43.5

Ferdinand: PL Games: 504 | Goals: 11 | Won: 291 | To win%: 58 | Clean sheets: 189 | CS %: 37.5

How many John Terry and Rio Ferdinand trophies have they won?

In a game of ‘Get out your medals’, these two have plenty of ammunition to wage war on, but Ferdinand just beats Terry in the big one with six Premier League titles to five.

They have also both won the Champions League once, with Terry’s missed penalty helping Ferdinand and Man Utd win in 2008 when he didn’t actually feature in the 2012 final which they won – but which he looked in complete kit on the sidelines.

Terry has won five FA Cups, while Ferdinand has won none – as he missed out on winning Man Utd in 2004 while serving a ban for failing a drugs test – but the former man of West Ham has an Intertoto Cup victory that Terry simply cannot match.

On the balance of major trophies though, including the Club World Cup but certainly not the Community Shield, Terry also won that round by a score of 15-10.

Terry: Premier League: 5 | Champions League: 1 | FA Cup: 5 | Ligue’s cup : 3 | Community Shield: 2 | Europa League: 1

Ferdinand: Premier League: 6 | Champions League: 1 | FA Cup: 0 | Ligue’s cup : 2 | Community Shield: 4 | Europa League: 0 | Club World Cup : 1 | Intertoto Cup: 1

International record

It’s a mixed bag for the two players here and hard to fully compare considering they’ve played together so often and actually formed a decent partnership for the Three Lions.

Ferdinand was named in four consecutive World Cup squads, despite only being on the pitch in two, but never played at the Euros due to his 2004 drug ban and England’s failure to qualify for 2008.

In 2012, Terry was selected for the Euros but Ferdinand missed out, apparently to avoid any confrontation between the two due to the court case with Rio’s brother Anton.

The pair also swapped the England captaincy, with Ferdinand getting the armband when Terry was first stripped of it, only for a long-term injury to return it to Terry.

Terry was an influential leader, while Ferdinand always looked more comfortable at international level – and neither came close to winning anything for England – call this one a draw.

Terry: England caps: 78 Goals: 6

Ferdinand: England selections: 81 Goals: 3

Gameplay style

Everyone kind of knows the difference between the two, having seen them perform at the highest level for so long – but deciding which is better comes down to which style you prefer.

Rio was undoubtedly ‘the ball player’ as he would be described today, with the touch and ability of a midfielder with the ball at his feet.

Tall and able to win every head, he was lightning fast and covered ground with a graceful galloping style that made everything a little too easy for him.

He always looked better with a guard by his side, like a Nemanja Vidic, someone to do the dirty work, a debt collector for Ferdinand’s mob boss role, orchestrating the defense.

Terry could play, there’s no doubt, because he could slash long balls with either foot and just because he wasn’t as graceful on the grass doesn’t mean he couldn’t either. come out of defense with the ball at his feet. .

He’s a better goalscorer than Ferdinand, with insane numbers during his career, and he also had more leadership qualities than his rival – often putting his head where it hurts, sometimes literally (see the Carling final Cup 2007).

Individual awards

It’s a team game, but since Terry mentioned it and we’re all obsessed with ranking players these days, why not look at their individual rewards.

We’ll forget all the club awards, so sadly Ferdinand can’t include his 1998 ‘Hammer of the Year’ award at West Ham in this particular Top Trumps game.

The PFA Premier League Team of the Year is a good barometer here, it’s decided by the other players, and Ferdinand took the lead here by finishing in six of those teams, to Terry’s four.

On the world stage though, as Terry is keen to point out, he’s been voted into the FIFPRO World XI five times, while Ferdinand has only made it once.

Terry also won the truly most important PFA Player of the Year award in the 2004/05 season and won three UEFA Defender of the Year awards, while making four appearances in UEFA Team of the Season.

When it comes to individual recognition, Terry wins this one hands down.

Terri: PFA Player of the Year, PFA Team of the Year (x4), FIFPRO World XI (x5), UEFA Team of the Year (x4) UEFA Defender of the Year (x3)

Fernando: PFA Team of the Year (x6), FIFPRO World XI (x1)


It’s a clash of styles, and pick your poison here – ironically they merge perfectly as a central defensive partnership, but if you like your centre-half a tough defender, go for Terry, if you like a pinch of spice, then Rio is your man.

Terry is right, he has the stats to back up his claim of being the best, and even has all the trophies to add more weight to his argument.

You’re not automatically a better player than someone else, just on stats or even trophies, and Ferdinand has done enough and won enough not to lose just because of that.

It’s really just a personal choice this one. Terry was the leader, captain and fighting general, while Ferdinand was the cultured footballer, showing a new way of playing for centre-halves.

So, as usual in these little wars of words on social networks, nobody wins!

ALSO: Harry Kane chasing Wayne Rooney’s England record


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