Rio Ferdinand’s appointment as the new captain of the England football squad has been accompanied by a pledge from the player that he has learnt from past mistakes.

The 29-year-old stirred controversy in 2006 during an interview with Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles, in which he used the word “faggot.”

In 2003 he failed to appear to give a drugs test and was suspended from club and international games for eight months and fined £50,000.

New England manager Fabio Capello has stated his intention to rotate the captaincy until the World Cup qualifying matches in September.

“It has taken me a while to realise the responsibilities of being a professional footballer,” said Ferdinand, who plays for Manchester United.

“I think I have grasped that now.”

Yesterday it was announced that he will wear the captain’s armband during tonight’s friendly against France.

“I’ve got a young family and I am mature,” continued Ferdinand.

“I’m not ashamed to say I made mistakes growing up.

“If someone does something wrong in their life do you shut the door on them totally? I don’t think that’s the right way.

“This manager sees what he sees and he deems me to be the man to wear the armband.”

Ferdinand has a son, Lorenz, with girlfriend Rebecca Ellison.

In October 2006 he used the word ‘faggot’ while guest on the Chris Moyles show, but immediately apologised.

During what the BBC described as “friendly banter,” the pair discussed the attractiveness of two of Manchester United’s players, Alan Smith and Paul Scholes.

“That is not my bag that, that is not my game, talking about going out with geezers,” he said.

After much provocation by Moyles, who insisted on asking which team mate he would prefer to date, he responded by calling Moyles a “faggot.”

A BBC spokesperson said that as Ferdinand apologised immediately after he made the comment, only a few complaints had been received by the company in the hours after the show was broadcast.

Charity Beat Bullying pointed to the footballer’s support for bullying campaigns and said they were surprised at his outburst.

England manager Capello has selected David Beckham for tonight’s game, his 100th cap.