Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson says Rio Ferdinand has become one of the game's great leaders.

He believes the player's injury problems have in no way affected his influence on the club's younger stars.

Fergie aid: "I keep thinking I signed Rio three or four years ago. I forget he's been here for almost 10 years.

"He has taken on the role of the influential person in the dressing room.

"He's great with the other players, he's simply brilliant."