The 38-year-old who is now a single-parent to their three children Lorenz, 10, Tate, eight, and Tia, five, met Rebecca when he was just 21 and they got married in 2009 on Peter Island, after he proposed during a trip to Las Vegas in 2007, a year after their eldest Lorenz’s birth.
In a soon to be aired BBC documentary, Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum And Dad, the former England footballer and ex-Manchester United defender revealed that he turned to alcohol following the death of his wife Rebecca in March 2015, after experiencing guilt that she died and not him.
Breaking down while filming, Ferdinand said he started drinking in the middle of the night to get through the grief of losing her to breast cancer.
‘At the beginning I was drinking a lot at night time. We have a lady lucky enough who lives with us, she would go to bed and I’d come back down in the middle of the night and probably drink a lot for the first three or four months. But I would get up and do the school run and stuff.’
Ferdinand said he can now sympathise with people who go to ‘dark places’ following trauma and grief. He insisted that it was the people who he surrounded himself with that gave him the drive to succeed for his children.
‘That’s why a network of people around you is so important. And I was fortunate to have that and also having my kids as inspiration to make sure I get up and do things and try and make things work. Some people aren’t afforded that, some people haven’t got that, and that’s when I started to become a bit more sympathetic when people do go to places that are dark places.’
He added: ‘I used to look at people or read stories and think, how can you be so selfish and commit suicide or attempt to commit suicide or whatever. But I can actually sympathise now because I understand that you get to places where you think, if I didn’t have that network of people or my kids who I use as an inspiration to be able to get up and think straight, I can understand that.’