Rio Ferdinand Rebecca Ellisson cancer
Footballer Rio Ferdinand announced the death of his wife Rebecca Ellison from cancer Twitter/Rio Ferdinand

Star names from the world of football have united in offering messages of condolence to Rio Ferdinand after the player's wife Rebecca Ellison died following a short battle with cancer.

In a statement on QPR's website Ferdinand wrote: "My soul mate slipped away last night. Rebecca, my wonderful wife, passed away peacefully after a short battle with cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

"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.

"Myself, my parents Janice and Julian, along with Rebecca's parents Lesley and Stephen, would like to thank our families, friends and my club colleagues who have rallied around in these desperate days, weeks and months."

The QPR team wore black armbands for their away match at Liverpool, which the team lost 2-1. Before the game Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard presented QPR captain Joey Barton with flowers as a mark of respect.

Team-mate Leroy Fer revealed a message, "Stay strong family Ferdinand" after scoring a consolation goal for QPR.

Ferdinand's former clubs Manchester United and West Ham United both sent messages of sympathy. Touchingly, in the often tribal world of football, many fans of his former teams also expressed their sadness and support.

Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand has expressed his grief following the death of wife Rebecca Ellison Getty

Fellow superstars from past and present also posted messages to the Ferdinand family, many using Rio's Twitter name "rioferdy5".

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel wrote: "Really sad news that Rebecca Ellison, the wife of Rio Ferdinand has past away. My condolences to Rio, their 3 children and the family. RIP"

Former England star and TV presenter Gary Lineker wrote: "Thoughts are with Rio Ferdinand and his family. How dreadfully sad."

Real Madrid striker Gareth Bale tweeted: "@rioferdy5 so sorry to hear mate, thoughts are with you and your children!!"