Rio: I put career before country

Rio comes clean on his England retirement. Photo: PA

Rio Ferdinand has revealed he put career before country when he decided not to play for England again.

The 34-year-old Manchester United defender could have answered England manager Roy Hodgson's call but instead chose to extend his playing career.

Ferdinand told the Sunday Sun: "Basically, I could play for another three or four years - or play two or three games for England and be finished in a year. It wasn't a contest.

"I couldn't sacrifice my fitness for the sake of a few more England caps.

"It would not have been fair on United, it would have been a disservice to the club and to England."

Ferdinand also revealed he considered quitting the game when Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement.

He said: "Sir Alex leaving did make me think: Is it time for me to go too?"

Ferdinand also revealed just how much his chronic back injury affected him.

"Two or three years ago people were saying I was finished and I remember those dark days," he added. "I was in a depressive state, I will admit that.

"They weren't easy times and I couldn't play to the highest standard. You think negative thoughts. I had 18 months of being injured on and off."