Rio Ferdinand has lifted the lid on becoming a father again to baby Cree and his family life during lockdown.
But he’s been relishing being able to spend the extra time with his boy during lockdown.
And romantic Rio says he and Kate always find time for date nights.
Asked about lockdown for himself and the family he said: “I’m really grateful though for the extra time it’s given me at home with Kate and the kids and to make the most of the little, everyday moments.
“It made me appreciate the NHS even more for the unbelievable work that they did and are still doing for us all.
“I’ve got even more respect for teachers too after having to home-school the kids throughout lockdown.
“I loved having them at home but I’m pleased they’re in their teachers’ capable hands now!”
The 42-year-old football pundit, who played for United from 2002 to 2014 and England from 1997 to 2011, enjoyed plenty of bike rides and walks with his family around where they live during lockdown.
Then came the arrival of Cree at Christmas.
“It was strange welcoming him in these circumstances and not being able to visit friends and family or for him to see or play with other children,” said Rio, who has two older sons Lorenz, 14, and Tate, 12, and a daughter Tia, 10, from his marriage to his late wife Rebecca Ellison, who passed away in 2015 after battling cancer.
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“But we’re just delighted to have him as part of our family and I feel pleased that I’ve been able to spend more time at home following his birth.”
He says he and Kate always try to spend some quality time together.
“We’ve both got such busy schedules, so it’s important that we make time for each other,” he said.
“Welcoming Cree has made things even more hectic but we’ve managed to find some time for ourselves too.
“It’s been mainly nights in, at the moment, as we’ve both been so focused on looking after Cree and been tired from having a newborn, as well as all of the lockdown restrictions.
“We do watch a lot of TV series when we’re at home. We’ve really enjoyed Money Heist, Line of Duty, Peaky Blinders, that sort of thing.”
He added: “I’m looking forward though to us heading out on a proper date night again soon, now that things are opening up again. One of our favourite places is Scott’s restaurant, which has a great atmosphere and the food is always incredible.”
Rio has spoken out as he teamed up with snack brand Peperami for a ‘Ban the Bland’ campaign ahead of the Euros and Olympics.
Foodie Rio said: “My favourite meal is chicken and rice- the key to it is the special seasoning, which is what makes the meal taste so good. We’ll often have that at home.”
The owner of Rosso restaurant at Spring Gardens in Manchester is also a fan of Italian food fan and pie and mash.
“But you have to do it proper, with the liquor and all!” he said.
And he added: “If I’m ever feeling down, Kate will make me a roast dinner. Honestly, her Sunday roast is unrivalled. “We’ll do a roast most Sundays anyway and it’s always a special family meal.
“The kids usually get involved and help Kate and I prepare it- Kate does a mean roast potato.”
Rio, who says his guilty pleasure is a Friday night kebab, says Kate and children have compared the sound of his eating to a washing machine.
“She hates loud eating, and for some reason they call me ‘the washing machine’ as I eat so loud,” he said.
“My boys get the hump and will move seats – they actually put music on now (to drown the sound out)!”
Rio, who is covering the Euros for the BBC, is excited for the tournament which launches on Friday June 11.
“Hopefully it’s coming home this summer!” he said.
“We’ve got a really exciting young squad and some unbelievable talent, so I’m excited to see how we do.
Rio will be watching with fellow pundits including Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker and Ashley Williams.
“Alan, Gary and I have worked together on a number of tournaments now, so we’ve got a really good relationship and there’s always lots of banter going on,” he said.
“We normally go out as a team for a meal after some of the matches.
“One of my favourite moments from the last tournament was Alan Shearer singing ‘All Night Long’ at dinner- although I’m not sure I want him to repeat it this tournament, I think we’ve heard enough!
“I know Ash really well too, so I’m excited to see what the tournament holds for us and how far England can get.”
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.