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Why Rio Ferdinand Has Set An Example For LADs Everywhere

Mark McGowan

| Last updated 

Why Rio Ferdinand Has Set An Example For LADs Everywhere

81 caps for his country, six Premier League medals, three League Cups, one Champions League. Rio Ferdinand is clearly one of England's great footballers, but all of the graft, sweat and tears put into all his success didn't even amount to the hardest thing he's had to do.

In 2015 Rio's wife, Rebecca, sadly passed away. Dealing with the death of the love of his life, as well as bringing up their three children by himself, was documented in a BBC documentary called Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum & Dad.

Credit: BBC

It was a tough watch, and for those who didn't see it, you should. However, it became apparent throughout that Rio - this fantastic footballer, known for being hard and a winner - had set an example for LADs all over the country, but for something totally different to football.

It's true that if a kid is aspiring to be a central defender that they should look at people like the 38-year-old, but a different light has now been shone on him.

By his own admission, he didn't give himself time to grieve his wife's death to breast cancer. He made sure his schedule was full with work following her passing, so that it didn't hit him all at once.

He tried his best to maintain that hard man image, letting it seem like he's coping okay, when in fact it was the opposite. Of course, everyone will try and cover it up a bit, but it's not necessary. Of all his achievements, one he should be immensely proud of is being brave enough to not only completely let his guard down, but also let it be documented and shown to thousands of people.

In letting cameras follow him around as he meets other widows, speaks to therapists, looks after his kids, works, and comes to terms with his loss, he gave a different perspective.

On the pitch he was seen as someone who had a job to do. Win games. Defend with his life. Put his body on the line, and never complain about it. Off the pitch, things rarely mattered to the common football fan. All they cared about is seeing him put in a crunching tackle, then getting up without whinging.

Because of things like that, kids see their dads shouting at the TV, and their Sunday league coaches shouting from sidelines, and decide that they have to be a hard knock to compete in the game. That means no crying and no emotion.

Ferdinand showed that it's okay, and encouraged others to open up. Whether it's mourning the loss of a loved one, mental health, illness or everyday life, it's okay to talk. It's okay to cry. It's okay.

Rio has now dedicated himself to being a father and working. Credit: PA

Though it may not have been his intentions to do so, the ex-Manchester United defender set an example, not only for footballers, but for LADs in general.

Early in the documentary Rio even said that when his wife tried to talk to him about her cancer, he'd shut it down. He'd tell her that he doesn't want to talk about negative stuff, or think about what might be. To an extent he still did that after her death, not speaking about it to his kids.

He goes on to realise that that was the wrong decision to make, as there's nothing wrong with talking about sadness, or anger.

Seeking out the help of other widows was an example of this, too. He didn't swan about paying over the odds to see other specialists, he got to the heart of the problem and decided to meet regular people who'd suffered the same fate.

Turning up to a house in Southport he took a dish of mac and cheese, and sat with those people who now probably understand him more than anyone else.

The be all and end all is that Rio bravely showed us what he was going through, and in doing so encouraged all of us to find ways of working stuff out, without covering it up.

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Mark McGowan
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