Early Doors

Rio Grande

Early Doors

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Well, we never saw that one coming, did we? Here was Early Doors smugly suggesting yesterday that Dave Becks had dropped a clanger by letting slip that John Terry would lead England out in Paris tonight, only for none other than Rio Ferdinand to be handed the armband instead.

Maybe there is a career in Hollywood for Becks after all, as the man dubbed 'the English OJ Simpson' (for the sports star/movie actor link rather than in any police chase/murder case sense) put in a virtuoso performance to convince the assembled hacks and a large television audience that JT would reclaim the captaincy in Paris.

And why wouldn't we believe Becks? He's always been straight down the line with us in the past. At least ED wasn't the only one fooled - the majority of the papers ran stories on JT's comeback yesterday morning.

So what about Rio? His appointment is sure to divide opinion.

First up, he's a Manchester United player, and all those 'real' England fans with a history of booing United players wearing the Three Lions on their chest will be rather piqued at the thought of another Red leading out their beloved team.

And don't forget this is a man who was slapped with an eight month ban from football for forgetting to piss in a pot four years ago, a reckless decision that cost him the chance to play at Euro 2004 - and seriously undermined England's chances in Portugal.

His critics may also point out that Rio is reportedly a big fan of a real contender for the title of 'worst role model in the world', Snoop Dogg. Rio even looks a little like the dope smoking, gin and juice guzzling gangster rapper (who has also dabbled in the porn film industry, just for good measure). Rio's nickname around Carrington? That's right, Snoop.

And it doesn't end there. Rio's less than exemplary record boasts a lengthy list of driving offences - he's been banned four times - and he also has homophobic form,  calling Radio One deejay Chris Moyles a "faggot" live on air in 2006.

But, perhaps most unforgivably, he brought to the general public the epically terrible television show Rio's World Cup Wind-ups back in 2006. Thank heavens the follow up - Rio's All Star Wind-ups - was axed before it had a chance to pollute the airwaves. There really is no need for another Jeremy Beadle - may he rest in peace - just yet.

And that's without even mentioning his latest venture - Celebrity Rap Idol is probably the best way of describing it - a programme we can all look forward to avoiding like the plague very soon. "Tonight Mathew, I'm going to be Snoop Dogg, and donchya forgeddit, bee-yatch!" ED can just imagine it.

On the other hand, making Rio captain could well be the making of the man and the faith Fabio Hat (aka Fabio Single Strand of Hair) has shown in him just goes to show how far he has come over recent years.

On the pitch, Rio's United form has been imperious this season and whenever he turns out for England, he rarely puts a foot wrong. Whereas JT prefers to shout and lead from the front in the traditional manner of a captain, Rio quietly marshals his defence and leads by example.

Of course, Don Fabio is only trying Rio out and he won't make a final decision on a permanent captain until the World Cup qualifiers start in September.

But if Rio does get the job full-time, ED believes he has the potential to drive the England team forward, albeit in a blacked-out Hummer with a personalised diamond-encrusted number plate.

And at the very least, it shows Fabio Hat is willing to overlook past indiscretions and move on - and he deserves a pat on the back for doing so. Actually, hang on a minute. Does that mean an upturn in Joey Barton's form could see him win a recall? Oh dear.

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When the news broke that Rio had been named captain, ED couldn't help but wonder if the confidence Becks had displayed earlier in the week at winning his 100th cap at the Stade de France was as much of a sham as his barefaced 'JT is captain' lie.

Fortunately it wasn't just bravado, and Becks will tonight join the very exclusive 100 club.

Cynics may say it is simply a sentimental cap, a designer one if you will, and when he is taken off on 60 minutes to a rousing standing ovation, that will be that. England career over.

Others, including his manager, believe he can keep going until the 2010 World Cup, a view which will have the marketing men rubbing their hands with glee.

Beckham is the cash cow to end all bovine money makers.

And to prove it, his boot manufacturers have already jumped on the bandwagon by forging a pair of golden boots embroidered with the number 100 on the tongues, which he will run out in tonight.

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FOREIGN VIEW: "England have excellent players. The only difference is that Brazil has won the World Cup five times and England one time." Yeah, thanks for rubbing it in Mr Dunga.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I don't have to explain my decisions to anyone. We need to be role models when we play for England and for our clubs. Part of this involves fair play and respect towards the referee and the public who come to see the games." Capello hints at why he overlooked John Terry for the captaincy in Paris.

TALKING POINT: "Hmmmm," mused simondenham on yesterday's controversial topic of Fabio Capello's Babelfish-inspired nickname. "Perhaps you should follow Mr Garrison's lead and ditch Mr Hat for Mr Twig or even Mr Slave."

As for today, let's have your thoughts on the England captaincy debate.

COMING UP: There may well be no Karim Benzema on show but with Rio Ferdinand leading England out for the first time and David Beckham winning his 100th cap, tonight's game is rather unmissable. You can follow live text commentary on the match in Paris right here from 2000 GMT, as well as Scotland's clash with those pesky Croatians at the same time.

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