Rio Ferdinand has posted a heartfelt tribute to his mother, after she passed away recently aged 58 following a battle with cancer.
He took to Instagram to share a poignant photo of him and his mum Janice, in which Rio sports a Manchester United tracksuit with his arm around her, as she holds a medal and smiles proudly.
The tragic news comes just two years after Rio lost his beloved wife Rebecca, also to cancer.
Rio praised her for her support during that awful time.
The heart-wrenching caption reads: “Mummy. It won’t ever be enough but I just want to say thanks, a really big thank you.
“The ability you had to make me feel loved at every moment in my life without even having to say it or be there by my side will never be forgotten.
“You were a fighter, a little fighter but with a huge heart. And you wore that heart on your sleeve throughout.
“All I ever wanted in life from as young as I can remember was to make you proud and I know I must of got somewhere near to doing that…. because your chest was puffed out as big as anyone’s whenever my name was mentioned or when you was in a stadium watching me play.
“I can just hear/see you now ‘what did you say, oh ok…that’s my son…!!!’”
He went on to describe her wonderful attributes, continuing: “You were fiery, you were protective, you was soft & hard faced when need be… you loved hard, you disciplined me, you were a grafter & you were my everything.”
He added that the only negative thing he could think of was ‘that you talked for too long on the phone!’
Janice dedicated her life to Rio and the rest of her family, he says in the post. “You gave all of your life to make sure everything was ok for myself, my brothers, sister, your grandchildren & husband Peter (never mind the countless friends & family too).”
Referring to the tragic loss of his wife and mother to his three children, Rio went on to say: “At my most difficult time, you were my shining light & made it your mission to be there for me & my kids… trust me that will never forgotten.
“From school runs to homework to making them smile… to starting horse riding lessons….they will always remember.
“You are the most selfless & giving person I have ever known which came from a genuine place of love.”
He finished it with: “The way you have touched so many people’s hearts will live on and will be the way many will remember you mum. You were an inspirational person in so many ways, one day I will be able to tell you them all face to face. Love you mummy. Rio x”
Moving tributes have come in from far and wide for Rio’s mum, from legions of fans and from Rio’s football colleagues.
Fellow footballer and good friend Gary Lineker tweeted: “Thoughts are with @rioferdy5 and family. They’ve suffered way too much lately.”
Rio shared his journey following his wife’s passing in the moving BBC documentary, ‘Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad’, in which his mum could be seen as his rock through the unbearable time.
In a statement from Rio, and the rest of his family, they said: “Our mum was the centre and the heart of our family and has supported us all through many difficult times, always with a smile on her face.”