Manchester Utd's Rio Ferdinand explains how he spoke to Michael Jackson - exclusive

England defender tells NME.COM about meeting his 'hero'

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Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand has revealed to NME.COM how his interview with Michael Jackson came about.

You can watch the moment the pair spoke by clicking on the video on the right.

"It was just surreal! He was my hero as a kid," explained Ferdinand. "Michael Jackson was the best entertainer, the best dancer, the best songwriter, the best everything for me. His videos were almost like waiting for a movie to come out. So it was a big thing.

"The 'Bad' album was my first ever album! So for him to ring me and wish me good luck with the launch of [Ferdinand interactive magazine] #5 and invite me to go backstage at the concert and have a conversation about him being in the magazine it was a bit like 'Wow, it's our first issue and we've already got someone like Michael Jackson interested!'. It was great all round."

The defender explained that luck had a large part to do with the phone call.

"He's the most famous man in the world, everywhere you go people know who he is," explained Ferdinand. "I knew someone in his management team who was going to be working with him when he was supposed to come over to England and that person put us together. So I was lucky to be in the right place in the right time.

"It was sad when I heard about his death. He's someone who has touched most people on the planet with his music, and he will be sorely missed. It's disappointing the way he went, but the greats like Bob Marley, Elvis Presley, Marvin Gaye and now Michael Jackson now, they all seem to go in weird circumstances. It's difficult, and I'm sure there are a lot of avid fans out there wondering why. We'll just have to wait and see."

Clearly in awe of Jackson, Ferdinand admitted that there is only one person in football who he holds in the same esteem.

"Is there a football equivalent? [Diego] Maradona!" he declared. "The greatest player to ever kick a football in my opinion. No one will ever be close in my opinion. I guess they were both famous for their hands [laughs], the Glove and the Hand Of God! Two defining moments in history, I'm sure!"

Ferdinand was speaking to Jackson for his "digital magazine" #5, the second issue of which can be viewed at now.

"We've got Roger Federer on the cover, we were lucky to get him after he won Wimbledon, and Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the planet as he calls himself. Robinho is doing the skills this time and my heroes page is Michael Jackson," he explained. "It's a good follow-up to the first issue, it's a revolving package, it's free and the interaction sets it apart from everyone else with video, polls and competitions. There's loads of good stuff on there."

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