Rio Ferdinand's wife passes away following battle with cancer

Soulmates: Rebecca and Rio
Soulmates: Rebecca and Rio

Footballer Rio Ferdinand’s wife has passed away following a short battle with cancer.

The 36-year-old former Manchester United captain who currently plays with QPR has been left distraught by the death of his wife Rebecca Ellison.

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.

“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.”

The couple married in 2009 and have three children – Lorenz, Tate and Tia.

Rebecca, who married Ferdinand in 2009, leaves behind three children - Lorenz, Tate and Tia.

Stars from the football world have offered their condolences to Rio.

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker described the news as “dreadfully sad”.  “Thoughts are with Rio Ferdinand and his family.”

Former Man Utd goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel described the news as “really sad”.