Ferdinand was born in Peckham, London, to Janice from Ireland and Julian from Saint Lucia. His brother, Rio, played for Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United, and is a former captain of the England national football team; and his cousin, Les, is a former England international. Anton showed considerable talent from an early age. Like his brother, Rio, he preferred to play in defence. His ability in this position led to him being signed to West Ham United's famed academy.
Ferdinand joined West Ham aged nine signing a three-year contract in the summer of 2002. He was handed his first team debut, by manager Glenn Roeder, in August 2003 when he started the 2–1 victory at Preston North End on the 2003–04 season's opening day. He went on to feature in 26 games that season.
In the 2004–05 season, he cemented his first team place with several key performances including scoring the opening goal, and his first for West Ham, on the final day of the season as West Ham beat Watford 2–1 at Vicarage Road to make the play-offs. In the Final Ferdinand was a member of the team which beat Preston 1–0, earning them promotion back into the Premier League after an absence of two years. At the end of July 2005, Ferdinand signed a three-year contract extension with the club.
Ferdinand won the Premier League Player of the Month award in January 2006 following his brother Rio to become the first brothers to win the award. In the 2006 FA Cup Final against Liverpool in Cardiff, Ferdinand fell to his knees after missing the decisive penalty in the shoot out.
In March 2007 it was revealed that Ferdinand had been fined two weeks' wages (estimated at £45,000) for lying about his whereabouts. Ferdinand told the club he needed to go to the Isle of Wight to visit his grandmother when in fact, he went to South Carolina to celebrate his 22nd birthday. West Ham lost the following game to relegation rivals Charlton Athletic 0–4. His last goal for West Ham was against Fulham on 12 January 2008, scoring in the 69th minute to put West Ham 2–1 ahead, which proved to be the winning goal.
On 27 August 2008, Ferdinand signed for Sunderland for an undisclosed fee on a four-year deal. Sunderland manager Roy Keane also stated after the signing of Ferdinand that he viewed him as a future England International. Ferdinand made a promising start to his Sunderland career in a partnership formed with Danny Collins but Sunderland's poor results at the start of the 2008–09 season saw Keane experiment with several different back four line-ups resulting in Ferdinand being in and out of the side. Following captain Dean Whitehead's departure to Stoke City in July 2009, Nyron Nosworthy took Whitehead's vacated number 6 jersey and Ferdinand switched from number 26 to number 5. Ferdinand fell out of favour with new manager Steve Bruce and first team opportunities became limited and he was not initially given a squad number for the 2010–11 Premier League season as loan-signing John Mensah was given Ferdinand's number 5 shirt, but was later given number 29.
On 31 August 2011, Sunderland accepted a bid from Queens Park Rangers for Ferdinand. The transfer was confirmed on 1 September. He made his debut on 12 September, playing the full 90 minutes, alongside Danny Gabbidon in a 0–0 draw with Newcastle United at Loftus Road. On 23 October, in a match between QPR and Chelsea, Ferdinand alleged racial abuse by Chelsea captain, John Terry, claiming Terry called him a "fucking black cunt" during the game; a claim denied by Terry. On 1 November, the Metropolitan Police announced a formal investigation into the allegations. On 1 February 2012 at Westminster Magistrates Court, Terry was accused of a racially aggravated public order offence in relation to the game at Loftus Road on 23 October. He entered a not-guilty plea and stood trial on 9 July. On 13 July, after a four-day trial, Terry was acquitted. In July, following the court hearing Terry was charged by The Football Association with "using abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards Ferdinand and which included a reference to colour and/or race contrary to FA Rule E3". In September 2012, after a four-day hearing, he was found guilty, banned for four games and fined £220,000. On 9 August 2013, Ferdinand was released by Queens Park Rangers in an effort to cut costs having been relegated to The Championship.
In January 2013, after struggling for a first-team place with QPR, Ferdinand joined Turkish club Bursaspor on loan until the end of the season. Ferdinand played seven games for Bursaspor helping them to fourth place in the 2012–13 Super League and a qualifying position in the 2013–14 Europa League.
On 14 August 2013, Ferdinand signed for Turkish team Antalyaspor on a three-year contract. At the end of the 2013–14 season he was released by the club.
Ferdinand was heavily linked with a move to Police United of the Thai Premier League during the summer of 2014. However, Ferdinand denied reports that a deal to join Police United had been completed. The next week, he arrived in Bangkok to sign for Police United on 18 June 2014. He and Teeratep Winothai were unveiled as new Police United signings in a press conference on 20 June and he said former QPR team-mate Jay Bothroyd, who plays for Muangthong United convinced him to move to Thailand. The BBC later reported that the move had fallen through and that Ferdinand was in advanced negotiations with Championship side Reading with the CEO of Police United, Samrit Bunditkitsada, being part of a consortium which bought a 90% stake in the English club in July.
On 11 August 2014, Ferdinand signed a two-year deal with Reading on a free transfer. Ferdinand did not make his Reading debut until 4 November 2014. He had been side-lined with a hamstring injury but played the first half in a 3–0 home win against Rotherham United. Reading announced on 9 May 2016, that Ferdinand would leave Reading when his contract expired at the end of June 2016.
On 27 August 2016, Ferdinand signed for Southend United on a one-year deal.
Ferdinand was a regular selection for England's Under-21 side, having made his début in a 3–1 win over Ukraine at the Riverside Stadium on 17 August 2004.
Ferdinand was selected to be part of the England squad for the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship in the Netherlands, and given the number 5 shirt. Going into the tournament whilst recovering from an injury, he made only one appearance, as substitute, in the semi-final against the hosts. The match finished 1–1 after extra time, and in the penalty shootout which followed, he scored one and missed one as the Netherlands won 13–12. This was his final U21 appearance.
Ferdinand is also eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland national team through his mother and the St. Lucian national team through his father.As of match played 16 September 2017
Ferdinand is a Christian. He is the brother of former footballer Rio Ferdinand. He is the cousin of Les Ferdinand, a former Queens Park Rangers striker, and Kane Ferdinand, a midfielder for Woking.
In October 2006, Ferdinand was arrested on assault charges following a fracas outside a nightclub in Ilford. He was charged in November 2006. He appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 12 November 2007 charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray, arising from this incident. It was alleged that Ferdinand had punched Emile Walker. In his defence, Ferdinand said he had feared he was going to be robbed of his £64,000 watch and was defending himself. On 20 November 2007, Ferdinand was acquitted as the jury accepted he was acting in self-defence.
Ferdinand is an Athlete Ambassador for Right To Play, the world's leading sports for development charity.