Rio Ferdinand on how much his kids adore girlfriend Kate Wright

Rio Ferdinand has revealed his kids absolutely adore reality star girlfriend Kate Wright.

The former England captain, 39, opened up about the importance of having a woman figure in the lives of his children, Lorenz, Tate and Tia, after losing his wife and their mother in 2015.

Rebecca, 34, died in her husband’s arms just 10 weeks after being diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time.

He told The Times Magazine: "My relationship with Kate has helped in that they have got a female in the house now.

"They run past me sometimes to go to her. I’ve had to go through a period of being very, very open, and men aren’t normally like that naturally.

"So having that extra person in the house who is female, who has that softer touch, I think is vitally important for the kids."

Kate, who said she gave up her career in the spotlight to be with the ex-footballer, also recently opened up about Rio’s kids, revealing that they want the couple to get engaged pretty soon – and maybe even give them a little brother or sister to play with.

She told This Morning hosts Holly Willoughby and Phil Schofield: "It’s really funny because at the beginning i could never imagine the kids would talk about it.

"It started with Tate when I went to the school saying: ‘Oh that’s my aunt who is picking me up’ then ‘that’s my dad’s girlfriend’ and now he says ‘it’s my stepmum.’

"And now, I would say on a daily basis they go: ‘Oh when’re you giving us a brother or sister?’

"They ask if we’re having a baby yet and I say no!"

She went on to say they also ask when they are getting married, giving Kate an idea of which roles they would like to take on such as bridesmaids.

Kate continued: "It’s actually really lovely how far we’ve come.

"And they say: ‘Dad, are you going to do it yet?’ so Rio’s thinking ‘Oh God I’ve got three kids and Kate thinking about it!’

"When are we gonna do it!"

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