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'Rio has been a man-mountain as he kept wife's illness all to himself'

The footballing family rallied around Rio Ferdinand last night following the tragic death of his wife.

Image: Martin Rickett

QUEENS PARK RANGERS manager Chris Ramsey admitted football was secondary yesterday as the club came to terms with the tragic news of the death of Rio Ferdinand’s wife.

Rebecca Ellison passed away on Friday night following a short battle with cancer as the club released a statement shortly before their Premier League match against Liverpool at Anfield.

The couple married in 2009, just after Ferdinand had won a third successive Premier League title with Man United. Their children are aged between four and nine.

Both sets of players wore black armbands on Saturday while QPR midfielder Leroy Fer lifted his shirt to reveal a written tribute to Ellison after scoring during the game, which saw Liverpool win 2-1.

Speaking after the match, QPR manager Chris Ramsey said: “It is an extremely difficult time for Rio and his family. It puts all this in its place.”

“There is a very solemn atmosphere in the dressing room. Everyone at the club will tell you, as a man, he has been fantastic. He has come in and trained and kept it all to himself. He is not been moping and has talked to all the young players.

“He has been a man-mountain. We only have good things to say about him and the way he has conducted himself. Our thoughts are with him and his family and hope they can pull together and find strength at this tragic moment.”

The footballing family were quick to pay their respects and there were solemn scenes at Old Trafford where fans stood for a minute’s applause during the fifth minute – Ferdinand’s shirt number during his time with United.

“Manchester United would like to express its deepest condolences to RioFerdinand after the news that his wife, Rebecca, has sadly passed away,” the club said in a statement.

screenshot.1430643005.71140 Leroy Fer revealed a message of support after scoring against Liverpool Source: Eurosport.com/Twitter

United’s supporters chanted “Rio! Rio! Rio!” during their side’s home defeat to West Brom. Ferdinand spent 12 trophy-laden years at United between 2002 and 2014 before joining QPR.

He won 81 caps for England between 1997 and 2011. The Football Association offered its “deepest condolences”.

Many stars from English football offered condolences, including United players Wayne Rooney and Radamel Falcao.

“Devastated to hear about Rebecca,” Rooney tweeted. “My prayers are with Rio and his family at this sad time.”

Additional reporting from - © AFP, 2015

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