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Rio Ferdinand pays tribute to late mother

Rio Ferdinand and his mother, Janice St Fort Image copyright Alamy
Image caption Rio Ferdinand and his mother, Janice St Fort

Former England captain Rio Ferdinand has paid tribute to his mother, Janice St Fort, calling her "a little fighter" after the 58-year-old died on Thursday from cancer.

The footballer posted a message to "Mummy" on Instagram with a picture of them together.

Thanking his "huge hearted" mother, Ferdinand said all he had wanted to do "was to make you proud".

In May 2015, Ferdinand's wife Rebecca, 34, died of breast cancer.

The ex-Manchester United defender referred to the support Mrs St Fort had given him and her three grandchildren following his wife's death.

He said: "At my most difficult time, you were my shining light and made it your mission to be there for me and my kids... trust me that will never be forgotten."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Rio Ferdinand and his late wife Rebecca Ellison

Earlier this year, Ferdinand appeared in a BBC documentary, Being Mum & Dad, where he spoke about his difficulties in dealing with grief and finding the best way to talk to their children about the loss of their mother.

In an emotional eulogy to his mother, Ferdinand said: "You were fiery, you were protective, you were soft and hard faced when need be... you loved hard, you disciplined me, you were a grafter & you were my everything."

Ferdinand's brother and former Premier League footballer Anton also paid tribute to their "loving, caring and forever selfless mum" on Instagram.

"Mum for 32 years of my life you've done nothing but put me first!" he said.

"Always cared and worried about others before yourself, an inspiration to me, my brothers, sister and husband Peter and anyone she had in her life."

Friends and former colleagues tweeted messages of support to the brothers.

To Rio, Gary Lineker tweeted: "Thoughts are with @rioferdy5 and family. They've suffered way too much lately."

Sol Campbell tweeted: "So sad to hear my England team mate and friend's mother Janice passing away. My heart goes out to you and your family Rio @rioferdy5. RIP."

Former West Ham and Aston Villa footballer Marlon Harewood tweeted to Anton: "So sorry for your loss bro."

Mrs St Fort died at Guy's Cancer Unit in London Bridge Hospital on Thursday with her husband Peter and her four children at her bedside.

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