BT Sport will show Rio Ferdinand’s Manchester United testimonial match exclusively live on its new sports channels next month, as well as streaming the game free online.
United have granted the veteran defender a testimonial as a tribute to his 12 years with the club, during which he has made 432 appearances, picking up numerous honours.
The showpiece encounter between a United select side and Sevilla at Old Trafford on August 9 will be streamed free to a global audience after a deal was agreed between BT Sport and Streamworks International.
The live action will be available at www.riotestimonial.com in about 170 countries and is expected to feature special guest appearances from famous faces across the sport and entertainment worlds.
Ferdinand, who has joined the BT Sport team as a programme-maker, interviewer and football expert, has won six Premier League titles, one Champions League, two League Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup since arriving at United from Leeds United in 2002.
The 34-year-old said: “Manchester United is a unique club with fans in every corner of the globe so I am delighted that my testimonial is going to be so widely available to all the of the club’s supporters in so many countries.
“It is going to be a fantastic and fun evening and there will be famous sporting faces and celebrities popping up all over the place. It should be an incredible night.”
Speculation is rife over which famous names could make guest appearances at Old Trafford, with Olympic sprint legend Usain Bolt among the stars being touted for a run-out, but Ferdinand is giving nothing away.
“I’ve got a couple of surprises I’m trying to muster up for the game,” he told BT Sport.
I feel blessed that the club picked me to come be a part of their history"
Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United and England
“Whether they come off or not remains to be seen but I’d like to give the fans something to shout about and make it a nice occasion for them as well, so we’ll see.”
Ferdinand has recently signed a new one-year deal with United under new manager David Moyes, who has replaced long-serving boss Sir Alex Ferguson following his retirement at the end of last season.
With at least another season ahead of him at Old Trafford, the former England international admits he never imagined his career would reach such heights.
“It’s been an unbelievable ride really,” he added. “I just feel blessed that the club picked me to come be a part of their history.
“To be here this long was never in my wildest dreams.”
BT Sport will show 38 exclusively live football matches from the Barclays Premier League, including 18 of the ‘top picks’ from August 2013 for three seasons.
The channels will also show live FA Cup, Europa League and Scottish Premier League matches, as well as top tier live football from Germany, Italy, France, Brazil, Australia and the USA, plus action from the FA Women’s Super League and 30 live matches from the Football Conference.