Rio Ferdinand has explained why he continues to mentor former Manchester United defender Michael Keane, pointing towards their long-lasting relationship and similar attributes at the back.
Keane ascended through the ranks at Old Trafford from a young age and made his senior Premier League debut during a 1-1 draw with Sunderland in August 2014, but moved to Burnley not long after.
And the 24-year-old, following two and a half years of featuring regularly at Turf Moor, has finally broken into the England senior side, producing strong performances against Germany and Lithuania.
Ferdinand, speaking after the game, shed light on the intimate relationship between the two.
“I’ve known him since he was a kid at Manchester United. He and his brother, Will, have the same management company as me and I mentor them,” he said. “I stay in contact with Keane by text and when I’m in Manchester we go for dinner, talk football and just chill.
“He’s like I was at 24: a sponge. He’s from a great family and had a good school upbringing. He’s very mature for his age — one you’d want your daughter to bring home.
“Before he faced Germany I left him a long voicemail, emphasising the message I always give: get your defending in order.”
You can see, quite visibly, that Keane has imbibed a defensive approach reflective of Ferdinand’s very own style over the past couple of years. An idle observer would probably imagine Keane – an English defender playing for Burnley, perhaps the least aesthetically pleasing team in the Premier League – to possess a typical no-nonsesnse defensive attitude.
But anybody who dedicates some time to watching Keane will tell you that the Englishman offers much more than that: complete equanimity on the ball, superb vision, an over-sweeping reading of the game and his own position – complimented, of course, by a sense of steel engendered by playing under Sean Dyche. He is, without doubt, one to watch for the future.