Rio Ferdinand is celebrating his 43rd birthday on Sunday 7 November.

The former footballer turned pundit has had all manner of ups and downs in his relationship history and career over the course of four decades and is dad to four gorgeous children.

Now married to wife Kate Ferdinand, Rio shares a wonderful life with the 30 year old TOWIE beauty.

But the sportsman has also endured unimaginable heartbreak with the death of his former wife Rebecca Ellison in 2015.

OK! looks back at Rio’s incredible life as he celebrates another year…



Rio Ferdinand is turning 43 this week
Rio Ferdinand is turning 43 this week

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Relationships

Rebecca Ellison Late 1990s – 2015

Rebecca Ellison was a former fitness trainer and met Rio while he was playing for West Ham in the late 1990s.

The brunette beauty was originally from Essex and later trained as an accountant in her career.

The former couple shared sons Lorenz, 14, Tate, 12, and one daughter named Tia, nine.



Rio married Rebecca Ellison in 2009
Rio married Rebecca Ellison in 2009

The couple had their first child in 2006 and tied the knot in 2009 – they’d only been married for six years when Rebecca died from breast cancer.

Rebecca was sadly just 34 when she passed away on 1 May 2015, after a short battle with the disease.

Doctors had thought she was clear of any cancerous cells, but further testing revealed it had returned and spread to her bones and spine.

The mum-of-three died just five weeks after being told the deadly disease had come back and was terminal.



Rio Ferdinand shared three children with his first wife
Rio Ferdinand shared three children with his first wife

Kate Ferdinand 2016 – present

Rio and Kate, who formally went by Kate Wright, began dating more than a year after the death of his late wife.

They met in Dubai shortly after Kate split from Dan Edgar, who was her co-star on TOWIE.

Kate wasn’t always a reality star, as the Essex favourite worked as a business support manager in a bank before signing up to the show.

After going public with Rio, Kate gradually made the decision to quit the ITV show so she could focus more on spending time with her new beau and his children.



Rio's kids didn't hold back on the feedback they gave the former footballer and wife Kate
Kate quit TOWIE to spend more quality time with Rio and the kids

The family fought to grieve and move forward from the loss of Rebecca, but in a documentary Rio shared all the ways he was helping his children in the poignant documentary Rio and Kate: Becoming a Stepfamily.

The couple got married in 2019 in a sun-soaked ceremony on the beaches of Marmaris, Turkey, in front of 180 of their family and friends.

Tia was Kate’s maid of honour and Tate and Lorenz walked her down the aisle in a beautiful tribute as the children officially welcomed their stepmum into the family.

Kate then gave birth to their first baby, a son named Cree, on Boxing Day last year.



Rio Ferdinand and Kate Wright attending the Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards 2018
Rio Ferdinand and Kate Wright attending the Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards 2018

Rio has been married twice, and in the early years of his career was regularly linked to models and other beautiful women.

In the last weeks before her death, Rebecca gave her blessing for Rio to move on with someone else, as she told a friend at the time she hated the thought of him being “lonely”.

“It kills me to think of Rio with a new partner,” Rebecca said, according to The Sun. “But you know what kills me even more? Thinking of him alone and lonely.

“If I don’t make it, I don’t want Rio to be miserable. I want him to be happy.”

After proposing to Kate in Dubai, Rio revealed they knew they had Rebecca’s blessing.



Rio enlisted the help of his kids to propose to second wife Kate Wright
Rio enlisted the help of his kids to propose to second wife Kate Wright

Career

Rio has had a colourful and successful career playing football both for the Premier League and smaller clubs.

The centre-back played 81 times for the England national team between 1997 and 2011.

He was also a member of three FIFA World Cup squads.

Rio spent nearly three years playing for Leeds United in the early 2000s, but it was Manchester United that truly became his home.

The dad-of-four played for the club for over a decade until 2014.

Rio then fully retired from playing football at the age of 36 in 2015 as he decided to fully focus on his kids when Rebecca sadly died.

The star is now a pundit for BT Sport and was a regular fixture during Euro 2020 this summer.



CHICAGO, USA - JULY 24: Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United holds a soccer clinic with local youngsters during a training session at the start of their 2004 USA Tour, which will take in pre-season friendly matches in Philadelphia, Chicago and New York, in Chicago on July 24 2004. (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)
Rio Ferdinand has an incredible career in football

Birthday plans

Kate and the children will surely pull out all the stops to make sure Rio celebrates his birthday in style – especially if their efforts at Halloween are anything to go by.

Sharing an incredible snap of his Grim Reaper costume next to a fully-transformed Kate as Cruella De Vil, the former footballer wrote: “Happy Halloween.

“Been in hospital all week, promised the kids I’d dress up….even if it was for an hour & in a wheel chair,” Rio said.



Kate threw Rio a surprise birthday
Kate threw Rio a surprise birthday



Kate and Rio dressed up in amazing costumes for Halloween this year
Kate and Rio dressed up in amazing costumes for Halloween this year

What’s more, even despite being in lockdown last year, Kate delivered an epic surprise for her husband at home with the help of the children.

The whole family dressed up and Kate revealed “dinner was cooked by the kids”, complete with personalised menus and a decadent table design to boot.

It comes as Rio and Kate also celebrated their two-year anniversary a few weeks ago.

The pundit gushed over his wife in an Instagram tribute as he said it “gets better every year” being with her.

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