As with most old duffers, Rio Ferdinand now spends most of his days in a cardigan, gathering the kids around the fireplace, doling out the Werthers Originals and telling tall tales of his salad days: about the time he accidentally invented Pritt-Stick while interned in a Japanese POW camp, about the time he beat Hitler in a bare-knuckle boxing match on a visit to Peckham, about the first time he saw a pineapple in England and about the time a gang of eight hooded men turned up outside his house in the dead of night demanding that he sign a new Manchester United contract.
*Sigh* Those were days.
Yep. Rio has revealed that – like Wayne Rooney a few years back – he was confronted by a masked gang calling themselves ‘The United Boys’ (how macho!) outside his house eight years ago when rumours began surfacing that he was stalling on his contract negotiations and about to move to Chelsea after being photographed in a London restaurant with Blues’ chief exec Peter Kenyon.
Rio himself told Four Four Two magazine:
[I was asked to come to the front door but could not see anyone on the security monitors] so I go to the side door and grab a big bit of wood, jump on the side of the wall and I’m just about to scream ‘raaaah!’ when I see there’s a massive group of people, with hoodies and caps covering their faces.
“I just thought, ‘I’m going to get served up in a moment, so go bananas and they’ll think you’re a nutter!’
“Then one of them said, ‘We’re the United boys, fucking sign your contract,’ and I was like, ‘What you talking about? I’ve only just started negotiating two months ago, what you worrying about?”
“Basically I went to see my agent for half an hour and Kenyon was with him. Someone’s taken a picture and made out like we’re having a bloody meal together. So I’m saying to these guys, ‘If I’m going to do a deal with another club, do you think I’d be doing it in broad daylight?’
“One of the neighbours had called the police by then and they got off when they heard the sirens.”
Intimidation seems to be the way that United’s lunatic supporters fringe conduct their business.
Back in 2010, a 30-strong mob reportedly made up of members of the United’s notorious ‘Men In Black’ firm descended on Wayne Rooney’s mansion in Prestbury with a banner reading ‘Sign For City And You’re Dead’ when the striker was wobbling over signing a new deal at Old Trafford.