Rio Ferdinand has praised the positive impact girlfriend Kate Wright has had on his children.
The retired footballer, 39, told The Times Magazine that having former TOWIE star Kate in his life has been good for Tate, Tia and Lorenz, who lost their mother – Rio’s wife Rebecca – to breast cancer in 2015.
He explained: “My relationship with Kate has helped in that they have got a female in the house now.”
Rio added: “They run past me sometimes to go to her. I’ve had to go through a period of being very, very open, and men aren’t normally like that naturally. So having that extra person in the house who is female, who has that softer touch, I think is vitally important for the kids.”
Rio and Kate, 26, have always kept their relationship away from the headlines.
It’s only recently they have started to talk about each other in interviews, with Kate appearing on ITV’s This Morning last week to discuss life as a step-mum to Rio’s children.
Kate said it was vital for both her and Rio to include the three children in every part of their relationship.
She said: “I think a really big part in our relationship and it working for the children is that everything we’ve done we’ve included them in, from the first date, to us moving in, him asking me to be his girlfriend.
“Everything, the kids were part of it, so it feels I wasn’t taking their dad away from them, it was more us becoming a bit of a family unit.”
Kate said she and Rio were always careful to spend time with the children, explaining how they’d go for lunch as a couple at the start of their romance, before coming home and treating the kids to a fun activity.
“They then thought, ‘If Kate is there, we get to do fun stuff afterwards’, to change their mindset in that it is fun, it isn’t me taking their dad away,” she said.
Kate said that she and Rio always include Rebecca in the kids’ lives, saying a mother is “irreplaceable” and nothing can ever replace Rebecca.
“We have a special room in the house for their mum and nan, with photos and a computer in there, and beanbags. They might do their homework in there or just ask us to sit in mummy and nanny’s room with them,” she said.
“We celebrate big occasions like Rebecca’s birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas. We all go to the cemetery together, we make it all of us doing it together. And obviously we talk to them about their mum.”
Kate gave up her TV career to focus on Rio and the kids and said she hasn’t looked back since.
“I felt I had two choices. I was in this world with lots of drama and very public, but when I met Rio and the children, they’d lost their mum, they didn’t need another woman who will be out everywhere. They need someone who will be at home with them and give them love.”
Kate said Rio’s children are now begging the couple to get married and have a child soon.
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