Rio Ferdinand says he's a 'strict, hands-on dad' as he opens up on life with Kate and new baby Cree

HE was a tough and uncompromising defender who captained both England and Manchester United.

And Rio Ferdinand is just as disciplined as a parent to his four beloved children Lorenz, 14, Tate, 12, Tia, 10, and Cree, six months.

The retired centre back, 42, exclusively told The Sun how he tries to find the perfect balance between firm and fair at home with the kids and wife Kate Ferdinand.

He said: “Yeah I am quite strict. I think it’s finding the balance really. You’ve got to be strict, but you’ve got to allow the kids to have a good time and enjoy themselves, within reason.

“When it comes to things like snacks, it’s doing it at the right time and controlling the amounts when they’re young kids. My kids are good like that, we’ve got them into a good routine.

“When we watch football or watch a movie, that’s our snack time and we love it.”

Former Towie star Kate, 30, gave birth to the couple’s first child together, Cree, back in December.

With lockdown confining people to their homes, it meant Rio was able to spend lots of time with his newborn son.

Never one to shirk a challenge on the field, Rio has got stuck into the nappy changes at home and often cooks for the family.

He said: “I’m quite hands on, I think Kate would say the same. I don’t mind changing the nappies at all, bath times and stuff are great, also a bit of cooking when I can, I don’t mind doing that as well.”

Rio is among a number of former footy pros such as Frank Lampard, Peter Crouch and now Jamie Redknapp who have added to their families after hanging up the boots.

But he doesn't see age as an important factor when it comes to parenting.

“I don’t think it’s about age,” he said. “I just think the pandemic means you’re at home all the time. Normally one or both of the parents are out working, so your time with the kids are limited a little bit.

“Having a lockdown baby has been very different, but it’s been really enjoyable.”

Rio added he’s not thinking about having anymore children just yet with Cree his sole focus.

During a glittering football career, Rio won six Premier League titles with Manchester United, the Champions League, two League Cups, four Community Shields and the Fifa Club World Cup.

He was capped 81 times by England and had been selected to captain England at the 2010 World Cup before he was cruelly ruled out with a knee injury.

Footballing ability runs in the Ferdinand family, with his brother Anton also a professional player as was their England striker cousin Les, who played for QPR, Tottenham and Newcastle.

Rio’s eldest sons Tate and Lorenz are both keen footballers and while Rio whole-heartedly supports their love for the game, he’s not putting any pressure on them to follow in his footsteps.

He said: “My two boys love football. They play, but I’m putting no pressure on them to become professional footballers. Listen, if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t as long as they work hard at it and they love it and have a passion and they try and follow that, then I’m a happy dad.”

Rio is firmly backing England to do well at the Euros which kicked off yesterday.

The 2020 tournament was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and Rio is expecting it to bring some serious joy to footy fans across the country.

England’s first game is tomorrow at Wembley against Croatia, the team that dumped them out of the World Cup in 2018.

“We’ve had loads of delays and I can’t wait,” he said. “I’ve been chomping at the bit to get into this, like all the football fans around Europe. The morale of the country needs a good boost, and I think the Euros hopefully can be that.

“I’m a tense watcher of games anyway, especially the teams I support but when I’m not doing the punditry and stuff I’ll be with the family doing the games. We love it, sitting on the sofa at home, snacks lying about everywhere, sharing. It’s good man, we enjoy it. I’m looking forward to it.”

Rio has teamed up with Peperami’s Ban the Bland campaign to try and spice up the snacks in the hands of footy fans this summer.

There’ll be no crisp sandwiches or Wigan kebabs in the Ferdinand household, with them fancying more flavoursome foods.

Rio believes the current crop of players can do better than his own golden generation, which included David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard, and win the tournament.

He said: “This group of players have definitely got the potential to go further and potentially win a tournament. I think they’ve got some great talent, whether this tournament is too early for them, I’m not sure. We are going in the right direction. When you look at the talent that is one of the reasons I’m so excited. 

“The attacking options we’ve got in the wide areas especially. It doesn’t matter who you play the likes of Sterling, Rashford, Grealish and Foden and Sancho, everyone will have an argument to say they should be playing.”

He expects England to overcome a challenging Scotland side to progress to the next round, although admits the lack of fans in the stadium will likely help the home side’s nerves.

Rio Ferdinand has been challenged by Peperami to take on the nation’s food fails and trial Britain’s saddest snacks. Calling for Brits to #BanTheBland, Rio offers a solution with his very own edible ‘Snackadium’ to be tucked into during a summer of sport. To watch the full episode, visit @PeperamiTV on Instagram.

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