"A little lad called Kieran read out his poem and his was my favourite," said the former Manchester United defender. "It was really good. He took me aback.
"It was the first one I read and I thought, 'Wow, that's a high standard.' "
Ferdinand, who now works as a TV pundit for BT Sport, returned to Camelot Primary School in south London as part of his role as a judge for PL Writing Stars. He feels the competition will improve literacy in schools.
"If football and the Premier League can come together to help kids understand that literature, writing and reading is a big part of their life going forward then I think it's an important role to play," he said.
Pupils aged 5-11 across the country have been asked to submit poems based on the theme of diversity by 21 December for the PL Writing Stars competition.
Prizes for the winning poems include a visit to the child's school by the Premier League Trophy.
For the children at Camelot, Ferdinand's visit was particularly inspirational because the six-time PL title winner grew up in the same area as them.
'Rio's been in our shoes'
"When we finally saw him everyone was just frozen in shock," says Anthony. "Everyone can understand him because he knows how we feel, because he’s been in our shoes."
And for Anthony, diversity is an important theme.
"I've learned that everybody's equal, no matter what," he said. "We may have a different skin colour than others, we have another way we speak, but we're all the same."