SPORT

Rio Ferdinand's Wife Rebecca Ellison Dies After Short Battle With Cancer

02/05/2015 11:50 BST | Updated 02/05/2015 12:59 BST

The wife of QPR defender and former England star Rio Ferdinand has died following a short battle with cancer.

Rebecca Ellison, 34, died last night at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital.

A statement from Ferdinand, 36, on QPR’s website read: “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.

“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.

rebecca ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand and his wife Rebecca Ellison

“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.”

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Ferdinand’s fellow sportsmen have posted message of support for him and his family.

Pundit and former footballer Gary Lineker tweeted: “Thoughts are with Rio Ferdinand and his family. How dreadfully sad.”

Former footballer Peter Schmeichel posted: "Really sad news that Rebecca Ellison, the wife of Rio Ferdinand has past away. My condolences to Rio, their 3 children and the family. RIP."

West Ham player Carlton Cole added: "I can't believe it. I offer my sincere to @rioferdy5 and his family. Stay strong bruv."

Boxer Amir Khan tweeted: "So sad to hear.. Thoughts and prayers go out to @rioferdy5 and his family."

Other high profile figures including One Direction's Niall Horan and singer Shayne Ward have also tweeted their condolences.

Ferdinand began his career at West Ham, moving to Leeds and then Manchester United before joining his current club.

The defender has also won 81 caps for England and has been on the winning side for over 50% of the games, according to the Rio Ferdinand Foundation.

Rio Ferdinand England career