Former Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand smiles as he meets the media during a promotional event

Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has decided to take a step ahead towards a professional boxing career. He appointed Richie Woodhall, the former British boxer as his coach to become a "Defender To Contender".

After his retirement from professional football in 2015, the 38-year-old has announced his new career objective on Tuesday. Although he is looking forward to putting his boxing shoes on for an English title next year, Ferdinand is about to prove his merits to British Boxing Board of Control to get a boxing license.

Ferdinand has featured in the Premier League, Football League Cup, FA Community Shield, UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup during his football career at United and Leeds United being the notable clubs.

The former defender also played at West Ham United, Bournemouth, Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers. He accepted that he likes the aggressive sport and it was the one which helped him to get over the pain of his wife's death.

"A lot of people sit and watch huge fights, plus other sporting events and say 'I can do that' or 'they've messed it up," Ferdinand said as quoted by Evening Standard.

"There are a lot of armchair fans wanting to pass judgment. Well, I'm going to walk the walk and actually do it. I'm into keeping fit and one of the big things I have missed since retiring from football in 2015 is the competition, whether it be as a team or as an individual going one-on-one against a striker."

"I just miss that chemical that comes out of you. I have not been able to replace it. This is a great way to get that back.I'm doing this for many reasons. I'm doing this to test myself as a man, as a human being," he continued.

"Can I change sports? Can I be a respectable performer in other sports? Can my body get through it?Can I mentally get up early at 5-6am in the morning when it is dark and cold to go on long, dirty runs? Then get back, take my kids to school, go to the gym and eat properly all of the time."

"This is a test of my mind and body, that's the way I'm looking at it. I'm not looking at it to become the world champion, I'm not stupid," the former United footballer said.

Ferdinand is not the first footballer who changes his career priorities. Curtis Woodhouse, the English midfielder and his compatriot Leon Mark McKenzie, the former forward have attempted to become boxers.

"Wish Rio Ferdinand all the very best if he decides to give pro boxing a go. Who is anybody to say what he can or can't-do. Live ya life," British light-welterweight 2012 winner Woodhouse tweeted.