Rio Ferdinand has heaped praise on his three children, whom he shares with late wife Rebecca Ellison. The 40-year-old, who is preparing to marry former TOWIE star Kate Wright, shared a rare snap of his kids - Lorenz, 13, Tate, 11, and Tia, 8 - hugging on a beach, in which he praised them for "inspiring him daily". He wrote: "Maaaaaan, did I ever think I’d see these three as happy and as full of life again... probably not at certain times." [sic]
"A lot has been thrown in their young paths but the resilience and character they have shown has been amazing," he added. "Living under one roof with four people that inspire me daily is a blessing." The fourth person the football star references appears to be his fiancé Kate. The couple have been in a relationship since 2016, after Rio tragically lost his wife Rebecca to cancer in May 2015.
Exclusive: Andy Murray opens up about fatherhood and reveals future aspirations for his kids
Rio's brother Anton Ferdinand was quick to reply, saying: "This is because of the love and what has been installed in them from when they were born since we all suffered the loss. Ri don't ever underestimate or play down the father you have been. You have shown strength both mentally and physically to make sure the kids are ok and now you're doing it as a family with Kate and as your brother to see you all smiling and happy again brings joy to my heart love you all always."
MORE: Inside Kate Wright's incredible hen party wardrobe
During an appearance on This Morning in 2017, Rio admitted that he is finally happy again. "I'm really happy now, the kids are really happy, it's the happiest they've been," he said. "I'm in a relationship and it's going well. My kids deserve to be happy, they've had tragedy for the last few years of their lives." Of his relationship with Kate, he added: "They have to be part of that conversation. There has not been one stage of going into this relationship where they've not been involved. Even in terms of introducing – how they want it to be done. As long as they feel they're involved and in the conversation, I think there's a chance they can reach happiness."
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.