John Terry vs Rio Ferdinand: Which former England player was the best Premier League centre-back?

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Once England centre-back partners, now Rio Ferdinand and John Terry are arguing on Twitter about their egos and who was the better player.

The row erupted when Ferdinand ranked himself as the Premier League's best ever centre-back when fronting his BT Sport show, placing Terry fifth.

"Opinions are great, but stats don't lie," former Chelsea skipper Terry wrote in a social media post, accompanied with graphics illustrating his career statistics.

Ferdinand hit back by saying Terry was lucky to be in his top five after the well-publicised racism case involving his brother Anton Ferdinand - Terry was found not guilty of racially abusing Ferdinand in the 2011 court case.

So with the two of them arguing about who is the best, Planet Sport looks at their careers to see if there's a clear winner.

John Terry vs Rio Ferdinand stats

In the form of a geeky Shakira, Terry proclaimed that the stats don't lie, so let's look at them a bit closer. They both played a similar amount of games in the Premier League and both had a lot of success throughout their careers. Terry spent 19 years with Chelsea and became the most successful captain ever at Stamford Bridge as well as their highest scoring defender.

His partnership with Ricardo Carvalho became one of the best in Premier League history as Chelsea under Jose Mourinho became the toughest defensive nuts to crack in the league. Ferdinand went from West Ham to Leeds to Manchester United, breaking the transfer record both times and he'd eventually captain the Red Devils and win 14 trophies himself. Terry says the stats don't lie, and he certainly does have a point when you put the pair head-to-head in the major categories.

Terry: PL Games: 492 | Goals: 41 | Won: 311 | Win%: 63 | Clean Sheets: 214 | CS%: 43.5

Ferdinand: PL Games: 504 | Goals: 11 | Won: 291 | Win%: 58 | Clean Sheets: 189 | CS%: 37.5

How many trophies did John Terry and Rio Ferdinand win?

In a game of 'Get your medals out' then these two have plenty of ammunition to go to war with, but Ferdinand just pips Terry in the big one with six Premier League titles to five. They also both won the Champions League once, with Terry's missed penalty helping Ferdinand and Man Utd win in 2008 while he didn't actually play in the 2012 final they won - but famously watched in full kit on the sidelines.

Terry took home five FA Cups, while Ferdinand won zero - as he missed Man Utd's 2004 victory while serving a ban for missing a drugs test - but the former West Ham man does have an Intertoto Cup victory that Terry simply can't match.

On the balance of major trophies though, including the Club World Cup but most definitely not the Community Shield, Terry takes this round too by a score of 15-10.

Terry: Premier League: 5 | Champions League: 1 | FA Cup: 5 | League Cup: 3 | Community Shield: 2 | Europa League: 1

Ferdinand: Premier League: 6 | Champions League: 1 | FA Cup: 0 | League Cup: 2 | Community Shield: 4 | Europa League: 0 | Club World Cup: 1 | Intertoto Cup: 1

International record

It's a mixed bag for both players here and hard to compare fully given that they played together so often and actually formed a decent partnership for the Three Lions. Ferdinand was named in four straight World Cup squads, although he only actually got on the field in two, but never played in the Euros due to his drugs ban in 2004 and England not qualifying for 2008.

In 2012, Terry was selected for the Euros but Ferdinand missed out, reportedly to avoid any confrontation between the two due to the court case with Rio's brother Anton.

The pair also traded the England captaincy, with Ferdinand getting the armband when Terry was stripped of it the first time, only for a long-term injury to hand it back to Terry. Terry was an influential leader, while Ferdinand always looked more comfortable at international level - and neither got anywhere close to winning anything for England - call this one a draw.

Terry: England caps: 78 Goals: 6

Ferdinand: England caps: 81 Goals: 3

Style of play

Everyone kind of knows the difference between the two, after watching them operate at the highest level for so long - but if you're choosing who is the best then it depends on what style you prefer.

Rio was without doubt 'the baller' as he would be described today, with a midfielder's touch and ability with the ball at his feet.

Tall and capable of winning every header, he was also quick as a flash and covered the ground with a graceful galloping style that made everything look a bit too easy for him.

He always looked better with a minder beside him, like a Nemanja Vidic, someone to do the dirty work, a debt collector to Ferdinand's mob boss role, orchestrating the defence.

Terry could play, there's no doubt about that, as he could ping long balls with either foot and just because he was not as graceful across the turf didn't mean that he couldn't march out of defence with the ball at his feet either.

He's a better goalscorer than Ferdinand, with some crazy numbers over his career, and he also had more leadership qualities than his rival - often putting his head in where it hurts, quite literally at times (see the 2007 Carling Cup final).

Individual accolades

It's a team game, but since Terry brought it up and we're all obsessed with ranking players these days then why not look at their individual awards.

We'll forget any club awards so unfortunately Ferdinand can't include his 1998 'Hammer of the Year' award at West Ham in this particular game of Top Trumps.

The PFA Premier League Team of the Year is a good barometer here with it being decided by the fellow players, and Ferdinand got the edge here by making it in six of those sides, to Terry's four. On the world stage though, as Terry is keen to point out, he was voted on to the FIFPRO World XI five times, while Ferdinand only made it once.

Terry also won the PFA Player of the Year, which really is the big one, in the 2004/05 season and won three UEFA Defender of the Year awards, while making four appearances in the UEFA Team of the Season.

As far as individual recognition goes, Terry wins this one hands down.

Terry: PFA Player of the Year, PFA Team of the Year (x4), FIFPRO World XI (x5), Uefa Team of the Year (x4) Uefa Defender of the Year (x3)

Ferdinand: PFA Team of the Year (x6), FIFPRO World XI (x1)


It's a clash of styles, and pick your poison here - ironically they gel together perfectly as a central defensive partnership but if you like your centre-halves to be tough defender, go for Terry, if you like a sprinkle of pizazz then Rio's your man.

Terry's right, he has the stats to back up his claim of being the best, and even has all the trophies to add more weight to his argument.

You're not automatically a better player than someone else just purely on stats or even trophies though, and Ferdinand has done enough and won enough to not lose out just because of that.

It's really just a personal choice this one. Terry was the leader, the captain and the general going into battle, while Ferdinand was the cultured footballer, showing a new way to play for centre-halves.

So as usual in these mostly petty wars of words on social media - nobody wins!

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