Rio Ferdinand speaks about the best player he knew that never fulfilled his potential
"He was probably the most naturally gifted young kid I've ever seen."
Alex Ferguson saw a lot of talented young footballers pass through Manchester United during his 26 years at Old Trafford, but according to Rio Ferdinand, he rated one player above them all. Rio has said that his former manager considered this youngster to be a better player as a teenager than anyone else he had seen at the club.
Better than Wayne Rooney, United's record goalscorer, better than Ryan Giggs, the most decorated player in the history of English football, and better than Paul Scholes, the United legend, widely considered to be one of the most talented players English football has ever produced.
That's how highly Ravel Morrison was rated, and that's why Ferdinand considers him to be the best footballer he knew who never fulfilled his potential.
Morrison was part of the same United youth team as Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard, and was regarded as the best player in the side. However, he left the club in January 2012 for West Ham, amid off the field issues. Ferguson lamented that the midfielder wasn't able to turn his career around and fulfil his incredible potential.
"Sadly there are examples of players who have similar backgrounds to Giggs or Cristiano Ronaldo who, despite enormous natural talent, just aren’t emotionally or mentally strong enough to overcome the hurts of their childhood and their inner demons," the former United manager wrote in his 2015 book Leading.
"Ravel Morrison might be the saddest case. He possessed as much natural talent as any youngster we ever signed, but he kept getting into trouble. It was painful to sell him to West Ham in January 2012 because he could have been a fantastic player. But, over a period of several years, the problems off the pitch continued to escalate and so we had little option but to cut the cord."
Morrison scored a brilliant goal for West Ham against Spurs in October 2013, but fell out of favour and was sent on loan to Queens Park Rangers a few months later, and then to Cardiff City. After his contract with West Ham expired in July 2015, he joined Lazio. However, he made only eight appearances in three years for the Serie A side, and returned to QPR on-loan for a brief spell.
Morrison then had a loan with Mexican side Club Atlas, where he was at least playing games and scoring goals.
⚽️ goal from today pic.twitter.com/ZATkcxZEnv
— ravel morrison (@morrisonravel) January 20, 2018
Yet, with so much talent, he should be still playing for United, and in contention for England's World Cup team. Ferdinand considers him to be the best footballer he knew who never fulfilled his potential, and spoke about the player on Premier League Tonight on BT Sport.
"Sir Alex called me and Wazza over one day and said, 'look, this kid is better than you when you were a kid Wayne, better than you Rio, better than Ryan Giggs'. 'This is the best kid you'll ever see," he said.
You can watch Ferdinand speak about Morrison here:
Originally published on January 20, 2018.