Ferdinand wife loses cancer fight
The wife of former England captain Rio Ferdinand died last night following a battle with cancer.
The Queens Park Rangers star told of his heartbreak after his "soul mate" and wife Rebecca Ellison died in hospital aged 34.
In a statement released on the club's website, he said: "My soul mate slipped away last night.
"Rebecca, my wonderful wife, passed away peacefully after a short battle with cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.
"She was a fantastic loving mother to our three beautiful children.
"She will be missed as a wife, sister, aunt, daughter and granddaughter. She will live on in our memory, as a guide and inspiration."
Mr Ferdinand, 36, thanked his friends, family and hospital staff for their support over the past months.
He said: "Myself, my parents Janice and Julian, along with Rebecca's parents Lesley and Stephen, would like to thank our families, friends and my club colleagues who have rallied around in these desperate days, weeks and months.
"I would also like to express my gratitude for the dedication and expertise of the staff led by professors Johnstone and Clarke at the Royal Marsden. Their valiant efforts to prolong Rebecca's all-too-short life will not be forgotten.
"Our grief, as a family, is total. We would appreciate being allowed to mourn privately."
According to reports, she died after a battle with breast cancer.
Queens Park Rangers football club added: "The thoughts of everyone at Queens Park Rangers Football Club are with Rio and his family at this immensely difficult time."
The couple married in August 2009 in the Caribbean on Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands. The footballer rented the entire 1,800-acre resort for their nuptials.
They have three children Lorenz, nine, Tate, six, and four-year-old Tia.
The couple's friends and leading figures from the world of sport told of their shock at the mother-of-three's death.
His former teammate Wayne Rooney wrote on Twitter: "Devastated to hear about Rebecca. My prayers are with Rio and his family at this sad time."
His wife Coleen posted: "Can't believe I am actually writing this, absolutely devastated to hear the news about Rebecca.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Rio, their 3 beautiful children and family at this sad time. I have such Happy memories of a devoted and loving mum. Rest in peace Rebecca xx."
And footballer Michael Owen wrote: "Stunned to hear about @rioferdy5's wife. Thoughts with him and his family."
Footballer turned pundit Gary Lineker wrote: "Thoughts are with Rio Ferdinand and his family. How dreadfully sad."
Ferdinand's former club Manchester United, where he played for more than a decade, said: "Everybody's thoughts at Manchester United are with Rio Ferdinand today, whose wife sadly passed away last night."
Ex-goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who played with Mr Ferdinand for many years, wrote: "Really sad news that Rebecca Ellison, the wife of Rio Ferdinand has past away. My condolences to Rio, their children and the family. RIP."