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'It was surreal'

Rio Ferdinand has spoken out about how, why and what it felt like to interview Michael Jackson, who was the Manchester United defender’s childhood hero. Turns out it felt pretty damn good.

‘It was just surreal! He was my hero as a kid,’ Ferdinand said in an interview with the NME. ‘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 (the magazine), invite me to backstage at the concert and have a conversation about him being in the magazine, it was a bit “Wow, it's our first issue and we've already got someone like Michael Jackson interested!”. It was great all round.

Rio hit the headlines this morning after a video of him interviewing Jackson over the phone surfaced on YouTube, but how on earth did he get access to one of the most reclusive men in the history of pop?

‘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.’

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