Rio Ferdinand's late wife Rebecca Ellison planned her own funeral and allowed her young children to pick the music
QPR defender Rio Ferdinand has spoken for the first time about the devastating loss of his wife Rebecca Ellison to breast cancer last month.
Rio (36) had been married to Rebecca (34) for six years and they had three children, Lorenz (9), Tate (6) and Tia (4).
He told the Sun on Sunday that the last few months have been "the most difficult period of my life" as he was powerless to help his "incredibly brave" wife battle the disease.
Rebecca, who had worked as a fitness trainer and accountant, planned much of her funeral and allowed her three children to choose the music that would be played.
"She wanted it to be a celebration of her life rather than a morbid occasion and it went just the way she would have liked. She got the send-off she deserved and it really did her proud."
The former England captain also revealed he felt torn as he took time out to be with Rebecca, missing training and matches for QPR.
"As footballers, we often talk about missing important games through injury as if it was the end of the world," he told the Sun.
"Believe me, it isn’t when compared to your wife and mother of your children dying of cancer at the age of 34."
However, the former England captain revealed that he felt "guilty" for missing out on matches as his team battled to escape relegation but as Rebecca's ilness progressed he was forced to take time out.
"I wanted to carry on for the team but I couldn’t make any promises and it wasn’t fair on the boss wondering whether I was available or not."
Rio did not tell anyone why he was taking time out and his team-mates were shocked to hear of Rebecca's illness just a few days before she passed away.
He also revealed he was "overwhelmed" by the support he received from fans, team-mates and former colleagues including Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham.
Ferdinand made the announcement of his wife's tragic death earlier this month in a message on QPR's website, and paid tribute to his 'soulmate'.
“My soul mate slipped away last night. Rebecca, my wonderful wife, passed away peacefully after a short battle with cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London," he wrote.
"She was a fantastic loving mother to our three beautiful children. She will be missed as a wife, sister, aunt, daughter and granddaughter. She will live on in our memory, as a guide and inspiration.
"Myself, my parents Janice and Julian, along with Rebecca's parents Lesley and Stephen, would like to thank our families, friends and my club colleagues who have rallied around in these desperate days, weeks and months.
"I would also like to express my gratitude for the dedication and expertise of the staff led by Professors Johnstone and Clarke at the Royal Marsden. Their valiant efforts to prolong Rebecca's all-too-short life will not be forgotten.
"Our grief, as a family, is total. We would appreciate being allowed to mourn privately.”