LONDON (REUTERS) - Football rallied round on Saturday to offer support to former England captain Rio Ferdinand following the death of his wife, Rebecca Ellison, from cancer.
Ferdinand's Queens Park Rangers team mates and his former colleagues at Manchester United all wore black armbands during their Premier League matches.
QPR player Leroy Fer offered his own personal support at Anfield after he scored in the second half during the 2-1 defeat by Liverpool, unveiling an undershirt with the message: "Stay strong family Ferdinand".
Before the match, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard had presented his QPR counterpart Joey Barton with a bunch of flowers for the former England defender.
Ellison, 34, passed away on Friday night following a short battle with breast cancer.
The couple have three children.
Breaking the news on QPR's website, the 36-year-old Ferdinand said: "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 grand daughter. She will live on in our memory, as a guide and inspiration."
At Manchester United, where Ferdinand enjoyed his major successes, players donned black armbands and all the fans, home and away, chanted "Rio, Rio" in an emotional show of support.
Another former England captain, David Beckham, led the tributes from players, past and present, who took to social media.
Passing on a message from himself and his wife on his Facebook account, Beckham wrote: "Victoria & I are very sad about the passing of Rebecca Ferdinand. Our thoughts are with Rio, their children and Rebecca's family at this time."