Big Hammers buddies Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard saw their close relationship distanced in a big way when they departed respectively for Manchester United and Chelsea.

They were seriously close during their Irons days and are mates again now but back then the deadly rivalry between the two saw them drift apart.

They both became regulars in the Three Lions squad of course but that seemingly did little to bring them closer together again as the battled for honours at Stamford Bridge an Old Trafford.

Indeed according to Rio the situation between them and the likes of Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard didn’t help the Three Lions as they all battled for domestic honours.

14 Dec 1997: Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard Jr at England U-21 training at Cheshunt

Rio makes no attempt to deny that fact that it went some way towards explaining why those who consistently claimed we had players more than capable of winning things at international level were regularly proved wrong.

And it’s a demonstration of how – probably since the formation of the Premier League –  of why PERHAPS that may continue to be the case.

Rio said on Instagram : “It was bad for England because we were such rivals and the main players in the squad were all at them clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool – you had Stevie and Carra – and then Chelsea had like Frank, JT, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole.

“So them three were the best three clubs in the land at the time, along with Arsenal probably and we were all in the England team together.

“So we’d be rivals at the weekend and we’d come in and there’d still be a little bit of tension

“We’d all have a laugh, but deep down… I don’t know. I’d never shared enough stuff with Stevie. And we laugh about it now, me and Stevie and Frank have worked together on BT Sport, loads of times, and we laugh about it over a beer like, ‘How were we like that?’

“But it was just so intense our rivalry, it was just weird man. You have to remember Frank Lampard was one of my best mates, my best mate in football when we were growing up, talked to him and see him every day, roomed with him for like four or five years.

“And I went from being like that close to not chatting to him on the phone, not seeing him, because I was desperate to win for United and I hated the thought of him winning for Chelsea.”