Football legend Rio Ferdinand has opened up about the struggles he has faced since his wife Rebecca’s sad death – saying he still wears his wedding ring two years on.
The former Manchester United and England defender was left to raise his three children alone after Rebecca passed away from breast cancer in 2015, aged just 34.
And he admits how hard he has found it to let go in the emotional documentary Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad – which sees him break down in tears as he addresses his grief.
Speaking ahead of the show, which airs on BBC One on March 28, he explained: ‘When you have a baby, everyone is prepared in life to celebrate and whatnot, but no one is taught how you’re meant to deal with loss.
‘When I met other fathers and husbands who had been through the same thing, I found out there is no real timeline.
He went on: ‘One of them said, “Who still wears their wedding ring?” and I was the only one who put their hand up. I was laughing in embarrassment.
‘They felt that to move on they needed to take that off. I was like, “Thanks, there is no way I’m taking mine off”. It’s just different. It’s a personal situation.’
Rio – who is father to 10-year-old Lorenz, Tate, eight, and five-year-old daughter Tia from his marriage to Rebecca – also admitted how he was initially affected following his wife’s death.
‘At the beginning I was drinking a lot at night,’ he explained. ‘We’ve got a lady who lives with us. She’d go to bed and I’d come down in the middle of the night and drink too much in the first three or four months.
‘It was a car crash. I was just lucky I had my kids, if I’m honest.’
The documentary sees Rio finding ways to cope with his loss and to help his children also – meeting other widowed fathers and also speaking to golfer Darren Clarke, whose wife died of cancer in 2006, and who has since remarried and found happiness again.
He later admits: ‘He’s made me realise that if I’m happy, they’ll be happy.’
Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad airs on BBC One on March 28 at 9pm.