At last... Ferdinand comes clean about the WAGs culture that let down England

Rio Ferdinand has blamed the WAG culture for destroying England’s last World Cup campaign, branding the national team ‘a circus’ under Sven Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren.

In comparing the ultra-professional regime under Fabio Capello to the more recent past, England’s captain for this evening’s qualifier here against Belarus launched an astonishing attack on the methods of the Italian’s predecessors.

‘If I’m honest, we became a bit of a circus in terms of the whole WAG situation,’ said Ferdinand. ‘We got caught up in the whole thing. It seemed like there was a big show around the whole England squad. It was like watching a theatre unfolding and football almost became a secondary element to the main event.

Carly Zucker

Baden Baden parade: Carly Zucker (girlfriend of Joe Cole), Alex Curran (girlfriend of Steven Gerrard), Michaela Henderson-Thynne ( girlfriend of Stewart Downing) and Lisa Roughead (girlfriend of Michael Carrick)

Rio Ferdinand

In a bubble: Rio said England's football almost became a secondary element in Germany

Steven Gerrard

Family life: Steven Gerrard with then girlfriend Alex Curran and their daughter

‘People were worrying more about what people were wearing and where they were going, rather than the England football team. That then transposed itself into the team.’

Ferdinand accepts he embraced the WAG culture as much as his international colleagues — perhaps more so — in Germany two years ago.

‘What I’m saying is in hindsight,’ he said. ‘We were all caught up in the bubble. Walking around somewhere like Baden Baden, there were paparazzi everywhere and we were in among you guys as well, and our families were there. It was a circus. I’m not telling the other players what to do. But I just think that, as a squad, we were a bit too open.

‘Some players may rather have that contact with their families. But I think you’re in a tournament and you don’t get many in your career and you have to be focused.’

Ferdinand says the WAGs should not be in such close proximity again.

Wayne Rooney and Coleen McLoughlin

World Cup circus: Wayne Rooney and Coleen McLoughlin in the centre of Baden Baden

‘Not just the WAGs, but the families, us being so close to you guys, the whole paparazzi situation. It was just a bit too close and it wasn’t really separated from the football. We were all merged together. Seeing the families is not a bad thing, but it’s about doing it in the right environment. It’s about doing things in the right way.’

Ferdinand believes England under Capello are doing it in the right way.

‘This regime is watertight,’ he said. ‘It feels as if we’re going in the right direction. I don’t want to speak too soon, but you can see we’re at the start of something and, hopefully, there’ll be bigger rewards.

‘What we have now is very, very professional. Very result-orientated. Very much like a lot of our clubs. The results come a long way before the performances. That’s been enhanced a bit more by the new regime.

‘You see how he is in training, in meetings, that there’s a winning mentality. That’s what he’s putting over to us. We have to take everything we can from the manager because of his vast experience. If we do, England will go in the right direction.’

Joe Hart, David Wheater and Gabriel Agbonlahor, from the Under 21 squad, were scheduled to fly out as cover for their senior colleagues although Agbonlahor has a hamstring strain.