Retired English soccer ace Rio Ferdinand has spoken candidly about his relationship with former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, revealing that he felt upset at not being named club captain during his successful career at the team.
Ferdinand captained the English Premier League team to a 2008 European Champions League final victory but was never given the duty on a full-term basis. Instead, colleague and fellow defender Gary Neville took the helm during his tenure, which proved to be a successful period for both players and the club.
Speaking in an interview with CNBC, Ferdinand said that he "would be lying" if he said the snub by Ferguson hadn't upset him.
"Sometimes there's situations during your career you think: Am I getting the credit I feel I deserve? But, at the same time that is one of the things that maybe pushed me on to keep improving year in, year out, to sustain and stay at that level for all them years," he said.
"I think I needed, as a person, for something to try and get to and grasp onto. If I had everything at one time, it might have been detrimental to my growth, maybe."
Ferdinand said that Ferguson's style of management meant he was "very much on your case at all times" and would rarely credit him after a good performance. He added that Ferguson explained his reasoning after both men had retired from the game.
"He spoke to me and said: "Your personality, if I had given you too much credit you might have gotten carried away, when you were younger, especially.' "
Ferguson, who retired from soccer in 2013, has recently published an autobiography, in which he highlights four of his own former players that he deemed to be truly world-class.
In a Monday interview with CNBC's "Power Lunch," Ferguson did not discuss Ferdinand's remarks, but said that the bar for his top player was a high one.
"I always demanded a certain work ethic from them and made them elevate themselves to the high bar of the great players and, in fairness, they all addressed that very well," he said.
"To be a truly great player, you have to have great talent, but also the work ethic," Ferguson said.
Ferdinand — and a large number of other top professionals — failed to reach this list, which has been critiqued by onlookers and soccer enthusiasts. Ferdinand said that Ferguson was a true "maverick" and he believes that his attacking focus during games meant that he only truly rated attack-minded players.
He also explained how kids interested in the sport these days are at a disadvantage because of a shift in mentality. He noted that children want to play soccer now for the monetary benefits rather than for the love of the game or to mimic their childhood idols.
"The kids now, it's, 'I want to play football because I want the car. I want the house. I want this, I want that.' Football is secondary," he said.
— CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.