Anton Ferdinand believes West Ham United priced him out of a dream transfer to Barcelona and is adamant he would have landed a big move had he gone to the 2006 World Cup.
Ferdinand impressed in his first season in the Premier League during the 2005/06 campaign, as the then 21-year-old helped West Ham reach the FA Cup final.
By that point an England Under-21 regular, Ferdinand was being tipped for a senior call-up alongside his brother Rio for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
In the second half of the season, it was also reported that Barcelona and Arsenal were interested in the centre back but Ferdinand believes his club priced him out of a huge move.
He told Ladbrokes: “As far as I've been made aware by West Ham, there was contact from Barcelona about my availability, but nothing materialised.
“If I'd have gone there, I'd probably still be playing now at 36. There was contact from Barcelona, an inquiry, but West Ham probably out-priced me.
“The money that they wanted for their English players at the time was a lot.
“I ended up going to Sunderland for £8m which was a lot of money at the time for a defender.
“I remember watching the news on Sky Sports. I was always a fan of Spanish football growing up and I saw in a segment Guillem Balague was saying there was interest from Barcelona in signing me. That's what made me go and ask the questions to West Ham, and that's where they told me there had been contact, but that's as far as it went.
“Arsenal asked about me in the past as well; I think Arsene Wenger wanted to pay £4m for me but West Ham wanted more money. It was around the time he went and bought Philippe Senderos and Johan Djourou instead. He signed those two instead of me.
“There's no doubt about it that if I'd have gone to that World Cup in 2006, a big move would've happened for me. There's no doubt about it.”
Ferdinand left West Ham for Sunderland in 2008 and after three years at the club, joined Queens Park Rangers.
It is there where Ferdinand had the altercation with John Terry which he stated made him fall out of love with the game.
In September 2012 Terry was banned for four matches and fined £220,000 for allegedly racially abusing Ferdinand during a QPR vs Chelsea match in October 2011.
Ferdinand has admitted he still struggles to come to terms with what happened and the after effects of the event, which led to the former defender being vilified by some supporters.
He ended up moving to Turkish sides Bursaspor and Antalyaspor in the years that followed and then had a spell in Thailand before returning to England with Reading in 2014, by that point at the age of 29.
And the Peckham-born centre back believes it all could have been so different had he not missed out on an England call up in the build up to the 2006 World Cup.
Speaking during a ‘The Ball Don't Lie’ podcast in 2020, Ferdinand explained: “'The doctors at West Ham wanted me to get it [the operation] done but I was saying ‘wait for the England squad to be announced’ because I had had a good year that year. First year in the Premier League I was on fire.
“It came out that I wasn't in the squad so I had a double hernia operation. I got a phone call from Sven Goran Eriksson asking me to meet up with the squad.
“I had just had the op so I couldn't go and I was devastated.
“He said ‘ok, the England doctor will speak to the West Ham doctor and we will see if you can come in at some point’.
“Three, four days later I got a phone call from Sven again and he said ‘listen it isn't going to be able to happen. Really I should have put you in the squad from the start’.
“I literally came off the phone and cried my eyes out.”
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