Rio Ferdinand "overwhelmed" by fans' support after wife's death

Rio Ferdinand admits that he has been "overwhelmed" by the level of support that he has received since his wife lost her short battle with cancer.

Queens Park Rangers defender Rio Ferdinand has spoken publicly for the first time since his wife passed away earlier this month to thank the world of football for the support that it has shown him and his family.

Rebecca Ellison, who married the former England international in 2009, died following a short battle with cancer at the age of 34.

Many have paid tribute since the news first emerged, while former clubs West Ham United and Manchester United, along with fellow Premier League side Liverpool, all offered their public support.

"It has been the most difficult period of my life, what with managing the emotions of our three children and watching such a great woman as my wife Rebecca die without being able to do anything about it," Ferdinand told The Sun.

"After Rebecca died, we held a service on a lovely sunny day which was arranged to perfection. Rebecca was an organisational freak and planned much of it herself while the kids picked the music. She wanted it to be celebration of her life rather than a morbid occasion and it went just the way she would have liked.

"The day it was announced the Rebecca had died, we were overwhelmed by message of support. The kids saw it all and were telling me, 'Look Dad, have you seen what they are doing for Mum?' Those are good memories for them. It was refreshing to see such compassion in the game, with tribalism removed."

Ms Ellison leaves behind three children - Lorenz (nine) Tate (six) and four-year-old Tia.

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United boss Alex Ferguson on the sidelines during a game with Man City on April 30, 2012
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