Rio Ferdinand delighted fans as he and girlfriend Kate Wright announced their engagement on Thursday, as he popped the question in Abu Dhabi surrounded by his three children.
His late wife Rebecca Ellison, who sadly died in 2015 following a battle with cancer, told a friend named Lisa before her death that she wanted him to be happy in the future, but the thought of him with a new partner would hurt her.
Rio told The Sun: “Rebecca told Lisa something in the final weeks of her life.
[Kate Wright/Instagram ]
“Months later Lisa told me what it was… ‘It kills me to think of Rio with a new partner, Lisa, you know it does. Of course it does.
“But you know what kills me even more? Thinking of him alone and lonely.
“‘If I don’t make it, Lisa, I don’t want Rio to be miserable. I want him to be happy.'”
Rio also candidly opened up on finding love after the death of his wife in his autobiography, revealing that he had turned to Rebecca’s friend for advice on the new relationship.
“To my total surprise, I met someone and at first I wasn’t sure I should let free my feelings.
“In an emotionally vulnerable state, one’s judgement can be all over the place.
“I wanted to get to know this beautiful young woman better and, as I have done on occasions, turned to Lisa for advice.
He added: “Of all the things Lisa has done for me, this may have been the hardest. Rebecca had been her best friend.
“It’s a measure of Lisa’s love that she put aside her feelings, offered friendship to this stranger and gave the relationship her whole-hearted encouragement. I will be forever in her debt.”