On this day in 2000: Leeds and West Ham agree £18million fee for Rio Ferdinand

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Rio Ferdinand was on the verge of becoming the world’s most expensive defender when Leeds’ £18m offer was finally accepted by West Ham on this day in 2000.

Ferdinand, then 22, signed the deal days later signing a five-and-a-half-year contract.

He marched past Leeds fans at Elland Road ahead of their home game against Arsenal on November 26.

The deal shattered the previous world record for a defender of £13million paid by Roma for Argentine Walter Samuel. It was also a British record, eclipsing the £15million paid for Alan Shearer and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Ferdinand made his Leeds debut on December 2 at Leicester and it was to be forgotten as David O’Leary’s side found themselves 3-0 down after just half an hour, eventually losing 3-1.

It was the first of 53 Premier League appearances Ferdinand made during his 18 months at Elland Road and he captained Leeds in both legs of their Champions League semi-final against Valencia in 2001.

Ferdinand later revealed during his work as a pundit for BT Sport that his time at Leeds was the “most enjoyable” of his playing career.

In the summer of 2002, Ferdinand became Britain’s most expensive player for the second time after a highly publicized move to arch-rivals Leeds Manchester United for £30 million.

At Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson, Ferdinand established himself as one of the most notable defenders in the world.

He won 10 major trophies with Ferguson’s side, including six Premier League titles and a Champions League, and made a total of 81 appearances for his country.

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By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at