Anton Ferdinand has revealed he turned down a move to Sunderland's arch rivals Newcastle United.

The young defender was making a name for himself at West ham United and was part of the side that made the FA Cup final which was defeated by Liverpool.

The 36-year-old believes he was priced out of a move to Arsenal and Barcelona by his former club prior to moving to Sunderland.

Ferdinand said that he didn't want to leave the Hammers, but a conversation with Roy Keane sold him the dream.

At the time, the defender was on the fringes of the England set-up and Keano told Ferdinand that he'd make him into a Three Lions defender.

Speaking to the Kickback with Nedum podcast, Ferdinand said: "Newcastle wanted me first but I turned them down. At the time Newcastle were going through a transitional period upstairs in the boardroom and they were unstable.

"West Ham were unstable at the time too with the Icelandic people. Then Sunderland came in and bid £8million.

"West Ham accepted it and I remember the chief executive and sporting director, Gianlucia Nani came to me and said 'Anton we've accepted a bid for you, £8million to Sunderland.'

"I said 'I'm not going.'

"He went 'What? Anton, Roy Keane is the manager he'll be good for you. You should go.'

"I said 'If Roy Keane will be good for me then bring him here?' That conversation ended and for a week he kept coming to me saying 'Anton you've got to go please.'

"The last straw for me was 'Anton please the club is in financial struggles, it could go under if you don't go.'

"It pulled on my heartstrings a bit. I just said to him 'Listen I'm not promising that I'll go but I'll go and speak to Roy Keane and see what he has to say.'

"I went up. Roy Keane asked me to meet him at his house in Hale. Man United were playing Newcastle that Sunday so I went and watched the game, so I went to watch Rio and went to his [Keano's] house after."

Anton Ferdinand
Anton Ferdinand

Ferdinand had spent his entire career at the Hammers and made 138 appearances before rubber stamping a move to the Stadium of Light.

The England youth international was intent on staying at Upton Park, but this conversation with Keano changed his mind.

He said: "I went to his house and what he said to me that was it. I was going. He was saying to me 'Listen Anton, outside of the four or five best centre-backs, you're talking your brother, John Terry, Jamie Carragher, Woodgate, Ledley King, outside of those guys you should be next on the list of playing for England. You're not being spoken about and I can get you there.'

"He was telling me the reasons why I wasn't there and what we were going to work on to get me there. When he was speaking to me like that I was like 'rah.'

"He's got weight. If he's speaking in the press, saying I should be playing for England then I know I'm getting a call-up. I was sold. I went and he was quite funny to be fair to him. He actually had a bit of banter.

"I went back [to West Ham] and I told them I'd leave. All of a sudden I was there for three-and-a-half months. I was like cheers Roy!"

Ferdinand added: "He's straight talking and that's what I liked about him. He was straight. Just because he bought me didn't mean I was his favourite. If I was playing rubbish he'd tell me and I liked that.

"In my first couple of sessions we'd do a rondo and he'd be involved. I'd pass the ball to him and he'd say 'what're you doing? That pass wasn't hard enough.'

"He wanted it fired in and was looking at me like some kind of idiot. What he did in the game is unquestionable that's why he's got that type of weight."

Anton Ferdinand
Anton Ferdinand

Ferdinand penned a four-year deal at the Stadium of Light and would go on to make 85 appearances for the Black Cats.

He paid tribute to a number of players and backroom staff that helped him during his time at the club.

"I loved it," said Ferdinand. "Not every minute because you witnessed a few times. I loved it and met a lot of people up there. Nadia who was the player liaison up there was like a second mother to me. She helped me a great deal. She helped me settle in and find a place to settle in.

"Billy Wilson, God rest his soul he's not with us anymore, he allowed me to understand what it meant to play for the club. He was a massive, massive fan and I used to ask him questions about what the fans wanted to see wearing their shirt.

"He was fantastic for me and the lads - I got to know Phil Bardsley really well and he's a good friend of mine now, I knew Kieron Richardson from when we were young, we had some great times there and it was a good dressing room to be in."

Ferdinand didn't kick on during his time at the Stadium of Light and the England cap that he so dearly craved remained illusive.

In fact, by his own admission he "fell off" track during his Wearside stay and it wasn't until his final four games for the club that he believes fans really saw him at his best.

By that point, Steve Bruce had replaced Roy Keane as manager and Ferdinand says the pair didn't see eye to eye.

"I think they saw the best of me the three or four games before I left," he said. "The year before that I had a lot of discrepancies with Steve Bruce, the manager at the time. We never got on. That's a fact. He didn't like me for some reason. It is what it is.

"People have their opinion and people need to understand that it's a game of opinions. His opinion of me as a footballer and as a person was one that didn't allow me to play as much as I should have.

"I told myself the season after that I was going to come back as fit as possible because I knew he liked people who could run.

"I came back as fit as possible and he'd brought in John O'Shea and Wes Brown. I thought there's a place up for grabs here. There was me and Micky Turner, who he loved, and I told myself I was going to get as fit as possible."

Anton Ferdinand and El-Hadji Diouf of Sunderland celebrate victory over bitter rivals Newcastle
Anton Ferdinand and El-Hadji Diouf of Sunderland celebrate victory over bitter rivals Newcastle

Ferdinand added: "Me and Wes actually struck up a really good partnership. We played Kilmarnock away and we slapped them 4-0 away. We just had a really good understanding. In that time I think the biggest thing was with me was that I reset in terms of always being compared to Rio.

"I've had people say to me you're never going to be as good as Rio and I'm always fighting to prove myself. That was the first time that I was playing with a player whose stature was much bigger than mine and I felt like I could learn from them. I had to prove I was better than them.

"I reset myself to that way of thinking that got me to that stage. I'm happy to say I'd fell off at that stage. I know I fell off just before that and it's through no fault of my own.

"I reset and had that mindset that I had to prove myself. We went into the season and won 1-0 or drew 1-1 at Anfield and they had Suarez and Andy Carroll up front. Me and Wes were on fire.

"We then had the Tyne-Wear derby at home and drew 1-1. We then went away to Swansea when they had just come up and they were good at home under Brendan Rogers, we come out of there with a 0-0 draw. That was my last game for Sunderland but in those games and the pre-season, I think that's when fans saw the best of me.

"But, I had to make a decision because Steve Bruce said to me 'As long as I'm at this football club you'll never be getting another contract.'

"I was in the last year of my contract and when QPR came in for me, I had to go and see what they had to say."

You can listen to the full podcast here.