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Rio Ferdinand's mother Janice, 58, sadly dies following cancer battle

The retired footballer released a statement on behalf of the family

Ainhoa Barcelona

Rio Ferdinand's mother Janice St Fort has passed away, aged 58, following a battle with cancer. A statement issued by Rio, his brother Anton and the rest of the family announced the sad news on Thursday, describing Janice as a "devoted mother" and an "inspiration". It read: "We are heartbroken to announce that our amazing mum Janice passed away today after an ongoing battle with cancer. She was an inspiration to us all and was loved by everyone who knew her. She died at Guy's Cancer Unit, London Bridge Hospital, with her loving husband Peter and us, her four children, at her bedside.

"She was a devoted mother to us all, and she was the most incredible grandmother to our children. The whole family are devastated. Our mum was the centre and the heart of our family and has supported us all through many difficult times, always with a smile on her face. Her strength and courage, as well as her great sense of humour and immense kindness, were never-ending. We would like to thank all the staff at Guy's Cancer Unit for looking after our mum so well during her illness especially Marta and Joanna as well as everyone who has sent kind wishes to us all during this difficult time."

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Rio Ferdinand called his mum 'an inspiration'

The sad news comes just two years after Rio's wife Rebecca died of the same disease in May 2015. Rebecca left behind three young children with her husband – Lorenz, Tia and Tate. The retired footballer recently starred in a BBC One documentary, Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad, which showed Rio adapting to life as a single dad. His mother Janice featured on the show, and was seen helping out with her three young grandchildren.

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In an interview with The Guardian in 2014, Rio spoke about his mum, praising her and saying: "Mum was only 17 when she had me, but she was a strong girl. Her Irish mum walked out on the family home in Bermondsey when she was eight. She was one of six kids, but they all mucked in to help their father run the house." He added: "She was also magnificent on our estate."