Three years ago, it was all going wrong.
An eight-month ban for a missed drugs test was followed by a contract wrangle which made him public enemy No 1 with the United faithful. Then an unfortunate meeting with Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon in a London restaurant about the same time further fuelled the fans' anger.
However, after signing a new five-year contract last week, Rio reflected: "I knew when I signed my last contract in 2005 I had to change the opinions people had of me. Proof of the pudding's in the eating, I think I've done that.
"The worst time was being booed by our own supporters. Circumstances were not great at the time and there was the incident when me and my agent were in the same restaurant as Peter Kenyon. In hindsight it could have been avoided.
"Also I was always associated with the bling culture. But whoever knows me knows that, for the best part of six years, I haven't been into bling. OK, I like a nice watch, drive a nice car and wear nice clothes. But being bling means spending money on willy-nilly things, having no respect for the game and it was the sort of thing I was accused of. To me, that is unwarranted."
Ferdinand saluted United boss Alex Ferguson's role in getting him through his rocky patch.
He revealed: "He just said to me, â€˜Play your normal game. Keep doing what you have been doing. It will take time to get people back on your side but they will realise you want to be at the club when you go out there on the pitch'. He would come down on you if you were doing bad stuff outside the football club but I don't think I was.
"There was no need for the manager to talk to me about stuff like that. I wasn't going out partying or getting drunk all the time and stuff like that. I've never done that since joining United. Since I've been here I've been a good pro, picking the right times to go out. When you come to United it does mature you.
"It is the workload you have, there are so many games you cannot afford to go out. It is the profile you have. You have to learn very quickly how to conduct your life outside of football. Otherwise you will be quickly out of the door and people will have forgotten you ever came.
"I'm not going to lie, I'm no different - everyone likes a good night out at the right times. But you can't do it at the wrong times at Manchester United as you'll get found out."