Ferdinand 'overwhelmed' by support following wife's death

The football world rallied around Rio Ferdinand following the death of his wife Rebecca, and the QPR defender thanked his well-wishers.

Rio Ferdinand was left overwhelmed by the support he received in "the most difficult period" of his life following the death of his wife.

Former England captain Ferdinand announced earlier this month that his spouse, Rebecca Ellison, had passed away following a short battle with cancer.

The couple married in 2009 and had three children, and Ferdinand expressed his gratitude for the outpouring of support he has received.

"It has been the most difficult period of my life, what with managing the emotions of our three children and watching such a great woman as my wife Rebecca die without being able to do anything about it," Ferdinand wrote in The Sun.

"After Rebecca died, we held a service on a lovely sunny day which was arranged to perfection. Rebecca was an organisational freak and planned much of it herself while the kids picked the music. She wanted it to be celebration of her life rather than a morbid occasion and it went just the way she would have liked.

"The day it was announced the Rebecca had died, we were overwhelmed by messages of support. The kids saw it all and were telling me, 'look Dad, have you seen what they are doing for Mum?' Those are good memories for them.

"It was refreshing to see such compassion in the game, with tribalism removed."

Ferdinand also spoke of how he felt "guilty" for not playing a part in QPR's battle against Premier League relegation.

"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," he added.

"I admit I felt guilty that I was letting the club down in our relegation fight. None of the lads knew what was going on because I didn't tell them. But eventually I asked the medical staff to let the other players know."