London – The wife of former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand has died following a short battle with cancer.

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“My soulmate slipped away last night,” the 36-year-old player said in a statement.

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“Rebecca, my wonderful wife, passed away peacefully after a short battle with cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

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“She was a fantastic, loving mother to our three beautiful children. She will be missed as a wife, sister, aunt, daughter and granddaughter. She will live on in our memory, as a guide and inspiration.”

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The couple married in 2009 when Ferdinand played for Manchester United.

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He was at Old Trafford from 2002-2014 before joining Queens Park Rangers. He won 81 caps for England between 1997 and 2011.