Here's why Rio Ferdinand wanted Sheffield United to get automatic promotion ahead of his former side Leeds United

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Former Leeds United star Rio Ferdinand claimed he wanted Sheffield United to secure automatic promotion over his old club, an outcome that came to pass after the Blades won 2-0 over Ipswich, while Marcelo Bielsa's side were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.

Before the weekend's action kicked off, Ferdinand discussed his hopes for the end of the Championship season with the website JOE, and claimed: "I'd love to see Leeds in the Premier League. Their fan base, the passion they've got, they'd be a great addition. It's where they should be. I had a great time there, so it'd be fantastic for me to see them there.

Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand

"I'd like them to go up through the play-offs, because my mate (Chris Wilder) is the manager of Sheffield United so I'd like him to go up, but Leeds to go up through the play-offs."

Ferdinand's wishes could still come true, as Leeds will be hot favourites to make it through the play-offs. A semi-final tie against Middlesbrough or Derby County looks most likely, with a potential final at Wembley Stadium against either West Bromwich Albion or Aston Villa on the horizon.

Back in his playing days, the former England captain, now 40, spent two seasons at Elland Road, where he established himself as one of the most exciting centre-back prospects the nation had produced in years.

Due to financial hardships, Leeds cashed in on Ferdinand in 2002, when he joined Manchester United in a £29.1m deal - a fee which saw him, at the time, smash the record for the UK's most expensive footballer of all time.

The former West Ham United starlet went on to become a Premier League legend, winning the competition six times, and also leading the Red Devils to Champions League glory in 2008.