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Rio Ferdinand urged Manchester United to sign Ben Godfrey earlier in his career before he joined Everton. The 23-year-old has been a huge success at Goodison Park and could help lead the Toffees into the Champions League this term.
Everton ended their Anfield hoodoo at the weekend with their first win away at rivals Liverpool since 1999 thanks to goals from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Winning at Liverpool allowed Everton to bounce back from back-to-back defeats and Carlo Ancelotti’s side now have fresh belief in their top-four charge.
They sit seventh on 40 points, still behind Liverpool but only on goal difference, and have a game in hand on all the teams above them.
Victory in their extra match would take them level with fifth-placed Chelsea and two points behind West Ham in the final Champions League spot.
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And Godfrey will play a key part if they are to snatch a top-four spot with the towering centre-back key to Everton’s resilient rearguard at Liverpool as they kept a clean sheet.
Signed for £25million plus add-ons last summer, Godfrey has been a massive hit on Merseyside and could be a cornerstone of Everton’s defence for years to come.
United legend Ferdinand has recognised the player’s potential from the outset, he claims, insisting he wanted the defender – who can play at left-back and right-back as well as in the middle – several years ago.
The England under-21 international was a regular for Norwich’s Championship title-winning team in 2018-19 and made 30 Premier League appearances for the Canaries as they were relegated last term.
And Ferdinand says he wanted the defender at Old Trafford two years ago, with the legendary former centre-half having mentored Godfrey through his New Era agency.
“Anyone had a chance to sign him because Norwich were going to let him go,” Ferdinand told his FIVE YouTube channel.
“Listen, I told you before I’d spoken to various people at different clubs, United being one of them as well.
“They could’ve had Ben when he was about 12 or 15 mil, when he just went to Norwich. He’d been there about half a season or a season.
“But listen, there’s so many players we could look at and say, they were missed at that point and they had to pay more.
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“That’s just life, that’s part of it, and there’s different judges. 99 people can judge a player and not like him and one just says, ‘bang, he’s for me’.
“It’s just that I’ve seen these boys grow so I know what’s under their bonnet. I know what they’re carrying in their toolbox.”
England boss Gareth Southgate has kept tabs on Godfrey, who has captained England’s u21s, and Everton manager Ancelotti is confident the player can earn a senior call-up for his country.
The Italian coach admits he has been taken by surprise at how impressive Godfrey has been for his team.
“If Gareth is watching Ben Godfrey then he is right,” he said. “Gareth doesn’t need advice from me.
“But to see and watch Ben Godfrey at this moment, in this period, is a pleasure for any manager.
“He has surprised me because I didn’t know him so well [when he signed].
“He was a signing from the club, from our scouts, and he has been really good. He has been able to adapt very quickly to different positions.”
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