Rio Ferdinand has admitted to being “shocked and devastated” by his eight-month drugs test ban.

The Manchester United defender was handed the punishment by the FA on Friday and is now set to miss Euro 2004.

“It hit me like a thunderbolt,” he told the Sun newspaper.

“I was shocked and devastated when I heard the verdict.”

Ferdinand intends to appeal against the ban, which comes into effect on 12 January.

The England defender has received the backing of Manchester United and England team-mate Gary Neville.

“The last guy (Manchester City’s Christian Negouai) that was guilty of this offence got a £2,000 fine and that was in February,” said Neville.

“In eight or nine months, what’s changed? Nothing. You can’t start making one rule for one and another for another.

“It’s as simple as that. Perhaps the pressure from outside has gone against Rio.”

Ferdinand played in United’s 2-1 win over Tottenham on Sunday, and manager Sir Alex Ferguson said he was happy with the defender’s performance.

“I was very pleased with Rio, I think it was the best thing to play him – he acquitted himself very well,’ said Ferguson.

“I think the boy merits his position in the team because of his performances.”

England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, who will now travel to Portugal without Ferdinand, said he hoped the defender would soon be back on international duty.

“I know Rio will be very disappointed but in time he will play for England again – he will be in my plans for the future,” he said.

“I hope he won’t think about not playing for England because he is very proud of being an international.”