Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand shares rare picture of his children as he thanks fans for their 'overwhelming' support

Sharnaz Shahid

Rio Ferdinand has thanked fans for their ongoing support as he and his family continue to grieve for his late wife Rebecca. The professional footballer, 38, took to his social media pages to share a rare picture of his children during a family break in Paris, just days after his emotional documentary, Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad, aired on BBC One. Alongside the candid image, he wrote: "Thank you for all your messages, care and support... it's been overwhelming... Going through this process has allowed my kids and myself to begin taking steps forward in a positive direction."

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He added: "I would like to say a big thank you to my family and friends, everyone who helped make the doc, in particular Child Bereavement UK and Jigsaw who have been vital in this process... Lastly I would like to thank everyone at New Era Productions & @neweraglobalsports for your continued support over the last 10 years supporting me on and off the pitch. RF." Rio's wife Rebecca passed away from breast cancer in May 2015, aged just 34. The couple first met in 2000 and were married nine years later. They went on to have sons Lorenz, ten, Tate, eight, and five-year-old daughter Tia.

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The one-off documentary showed how Rio dealt with his loss as he adjusted to life as a single parent. "I don't ever sit and dwell – and being busy helps that. I've been preparing for the day I retire for five or six years, so I had things in place I could walk into – my restaurant, foundation and TV work," he said. "None of us knew it would coincide with what happened to Rebecca. But it did so I didn't need to think too much." The former footballer also admitted that the days surrounding Rebecca's death have become "a bit of a blur". He explained: "If anyone asks me now, I can't explain what happened. The last time she was at home she tried to talk about it, but I just blocked it out. I just said, 'Why are you talking like that? You're going to be alright.' I'd close up."