Rio Ferdinand has revealed his late wife Rebecca would be surprised to see the man he has become following her tragic death in 2015. During an appearance on Tuesday's This Morning, the retired footballer opened up about his new BBC documentary, Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad, as he discussed his struggle dealing with grief. When asked if his wife would be shocked to see him now, Rio replied: "Yeah I think so, she'll think that I'm a different man. My upbringing wasn't about talking [about things in the open] - my dad is very much the same."
He added: "It was just something that was passed down, when you're brought up in a certain environment - you kind of have to shake it off. Because of what's happening to [my family], you can tell. One good thing to come out of it, is being able to talk to the kids." Rio's life changed forever when his 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.
Rio Ferdinand appeared on This Morning to talk about his wife's death
On losing Rebecca and bringing up his three small children Rio confessed: "That was probably the hardest point [telling his children their mother wasn’t coming back]. That they are never going to see their mum again... I wouldn't wish that on anybody. You're thrown into a situation and deal with the school run for example, and your appreciation for mothers and how they cope and deal with the school run... there's so much more that goes into it that mums do, that many of us men don’t even consider. The preparation that goes into it the night before, uniforms, books, breakfasts - and the first time [after] that they had to go to school, and before I knew it they were late."
Speaking about his changed perception of fatherhood, Rio admitted he is now "undoubtedly a better dad". He said: "My kids are benefiting and I'm seeing that with my children. If you put them in a room of twenty children, you wouldn't be able to tell that my children had lost their mum - and I think that's a testament to them and the network of people surrounding us. I think communicating and talking is so key."
Rio lost his beloved wife Rebecca in May 2015
The one-off documentary also shows how Rio went from thinking that asking for help was "weak", to seeing the benefits of sharing your feelings and not bottling them up. "You don't want people feeling sorry for you," he said of his former views. "In the macho changing room culture that I was in, when someone's felt sorry for, that means they're weak. And you don't want to have people like that in the changing room, because that's a weak link. If I thought someone was looking for a bit of sympathy, I'd be like, 'Get him out. Don't want him in there.' I couldn't be around people like that. I hated it. I didn't respect them at all."
Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad - Tuesday 28th March, 9pm on BBC One