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Ferdinand excited by England spirit
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is excited by the collective spirit in England's camp that did not always exist when he was in the ranks.
Ferdinand, controversially left out of the Euro 2012 squad, has been impressed with the unity shown both on and off the pitch by Roy Hodgson's men in Poland and Ukraine.
The 33-year-old admitted that when he joined the England set-up - as a West Ham player in 1996 - cliques emerged between players of rival clubs. He told The Sun: "When I first started with England, players would sit in distinct groups."
He added: "You would have a table for Manchester United players, another for the Liverpool lads and one for Alan Shearer and his mob.
"I didn't know where to sit for fear I would upset one group or another and be marked down as in a particular gang. It all sounds strange now but that's how it was in those days.
"In the squad today you have plenty of Manchester United and Liverpool players but many have had a different upbringing.
"Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing have moved to Anfield, yet are north easterners. And, of course, Danny Welbeck knows Henderson from the time he was on loan at Sunderland."
Ferdinand was also quick to hail the influence of England captain Steven Gerrard, whom he believes has played no small part in the collective team ethic.
"Steven will know, like I did, that you can't have people being left on the fringes, not being included, and he has made a real effort to support all the players," Ferdinand added.
"He has more than 90 caps but this feels as if it is his defining moment in an England shirt. He is leading by example, has had three assists and taken on all the responsibility really well. He wants to be the one the team relies on."