Rio Ferdinand reveals secrets of inspirational Sir Alex Ferguson as he backs United to overhaul table-toppers Chelsea

Rio Ferdinand has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson inspired Manchester United to be kings of Europe with a rousing speech - and not a hairdryer in sight.

England star Ferdinand describes the pre-match talk before the 2008 Champions League final as the best he has heard, believing it helped United edge out Chelsea on penalties in Moscow.

Ferguson may be better known for his fierce outbursts when delivering the so-called 'hairdryer', but Ferdinand revealed there is another side to the Scot.

Sir Alex Ferguson lifts the European Cup

Kings of Europe: Sir Alex Ferguson lifts the European Cup, surrounded by his Manchester United players, in May 2008

The 31-year-old reminisced about how Ferguson eased the dressing room tension and settled the players' nerves by simply turning a casual conversation into an inspirational match-winning address.

'I’ll never forget the manager’s speech in Moscow,’ said Ferdinand. 'Before the game he just plunked his chair in the middle of the dressing room and just started a random conversation totally unrelated to football.

‘But it just settled everybody’s nerves and before we knew it his talk switched to words of pure inspiration, reminding all the players that whatever you do in life is to achieve your goals. And, of course, it worked. We won the game.’

The former Leeds and West Ham player made the admission to dinner guests at the inaugural Rio Ferdinand Live the Dream Foundation fundraiser, where he beat United team-mate Edwin van der Sar in a Devils Kitchen cook-off challenge alongside celebrity chef Marco Pierre White at Old Trafford.

Rio Ferdinand

Flag day: Rio Ferdinand celebrates victory in Moscow

And Ferdinand is sure United can get the better of Chelsea again this season.

Sidelined with a troublesome back complaint that has restricted him to only a handful of appearances this term, Ferdinand is unavailable for the champions visit to Portsmouth, but has backed his team-mates to revive their bid for glory following their disappointing 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge three weeks ago.

Rio Ferdinand outjumps Chelsea Nicolas Anelka

Battle on: Ferdinand outjumps Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka in the Community Shield

United are five points behind Chelsea in the Premier League, but the Old Trafford idol said: ‘When I look at the players around me in the dressing room I can’t help but feel confident and believe that we will win.

‘I’m sure will we be up there come the end of the season and hopefully win two or three trophies.’

Ferdinand, who signed for a then-British transfer record fee of £30million from Leeds in 2002, credits Ferguson’s profound managerial skills for the club’s overwhelming success in recent years, insisting the Scot’s presence remains the biggest factor in convincing new arrivals to join the club.

'I was in awe the first time I met Sir Alex and whenever you get new players come in at the club it’s the same thing,’ he said.

‘When Michael Owen signed in the summer he told me how he just sat there listening to the gaffer in amazement and that’s the effect the manager has. That’s why he’s so successful.’

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now