Anton Ferdinand documentary: Powerful revelations from the forgotten man in John Terry racism case

Simon Collings
·4-min read
<p>AntonFerdinandBBC.png</p> (BBC)

AntonFerdinandBBC.png

(BBC)

It was, in Anton Ferdinand’s own words, a “whirlwind” - and one in which he was caught in the centre.

But as he walked off the pitch at Loftus Road after QPR’s 1-0 victory over Chelsea in October 2011, he was unaware that John Terry had been captured on camera saying the words “f***** black c***” during a row with him.

Nor would Ferdinand know how the resulting trial and FA investigation into alleged racial abuse would impact his life and leave him feeling haunted by the pain he has endured.

But, speaking for the first time about one of the ugliest episodes in English football, the 35-year-old former defender has opened up about the trauma he suffered.

Since the incident nine years ago, the narrative has largely centred around Terry, who was cleared in court of racially abusing Ferdinand in 2012 but was banned for four matches and fined £220,000 following an FA disciplinary hearing.

The Chelsea defender was also stripped of the England captaincy, which made head coach Fabio Capello resign in reaction to the decision.

AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images

But Ferdinand, the man at the centre of the storm, remained silent. Until now.

He has spoken in a powerful BBC documentary - Anton Ferdinand: Football, Racism and Me - about the pain of the incident, the abuse his mother suffered and how he was made to feel guilty.

Filmed over 18 months, the documentary, which airs on Monday, is a brutal and raw insight into the turmoil Ferdinand has endured since 2011.

Over the hour-long show, each revelation leaves you with the realisation that the victim of the incident was overlooked.

Ferdinand explains how he would wake up to daily racial abuse on social media after the incident, how bricks were thrown at his mother’s house and how he received hate mail threatening to rape his mother and sister. At one stage, he even received a bullet in the post.

He says he was made to “feel like I had done something wrong” during the FA disciplinary hearing into the incident. He was booed at away grounds after Terry was stripped of the England captaincy and he says he felt like he was on his own when he needed help from the authorities.

“I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to feel the way I have,” says Ferdinand.

On the pitch, Ferdinand suffered too. Both his brother, Rio, and his manager at QPR at the time, Neil Warnock, cite the incident with Terry as being the start of a downward spiral in his career.

“It was something strange really, because you weren’t the same player,” Warnock says to Ferdinand in the documentary.

“I noticed almost straight away that your concentration levels were diminished. You were like playing in a daze. The ball was moving around you and you were just looking, like into space at times.”

Hearing that from Warnock rocks Ferdinand and, not for the only time in the documentary, he is close to tears.

It is one of the many moments that reminds you that Ferdinand is opening these wounds and letting us into a private battle that has clearly taken its toll on him.

That Ferdinand’s wife admits she didn’t want him to do the documentary emphasises her fears about how tough the process would be.

“After the trial my mum couldn’t believe it,” says Ferdinand. “It would have hurt her to see me go through this in front of the whole of England.

“That’s when she started to get ill. My mum died from cancer. And I sit here today and I think, is that my fault? I played a part in these things happening to my family.”

Such honesty from Ferdinand is stark and gives a harrowing insight into the lives of those who suffer racist abuse.

His biggest regret about the incident is that he didn’t speak out sooner. But by doing this documentary Ferdinand shows such courage and it is impossible not to see him becoming a voice for change moving forward.

He is open and passionate - and his willingness to let the cameras in allows for a documentary of real impact.

It is a documentary that will most likely leave you, like Ferdinand, feeling emotional - but also thankful that, after nine years, he has found his voice.

“It feels right that I am speaking out, even though it is years later,” says Ferdinand. “My mum, she’s not here to see it, but I know she is with me. I know that she will be proud of me doing this.”

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