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Rio Ferdinand has the sweetest thing to say about girlfriend Kate Wright in emotional acceptance speech

The footballer sadly lost his wife Rebecca Ellison to cancer in 2015

Sharnaz Shahid

Rio Ferdinand was overcome with emotion as he remembered his late wife Rebecca Ellison in his acceptance speech at the BAFTA TV Awards on Sunday night. The football star won the prize for Best Single Documentary for his film, Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad, which was made to highlight grief following the death of Rebecca, the mother of his three children. Fighting back the tears upon accepting his award, the 39-year-old paid a touching tribute to his kids before thanking his "beautiful" girlfriend Kate Wright. "I'm normally quite used to picking up trophies" he said. "Thanks to BAFTA and all the other nominees, but also to BBC for believing in the project, all the guys at New Era, the management team, it's been quite a crazy whirlwind experience."

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Rio Ferdinand with his girlfriend Kate Wright at the BAFTA TV Awards

The star added: "I didn't do this for any other reason other than my three kids. The worst thing to come out of this is that I get quite emotional now. I'm not quite used to it." Discussing the struggle of the past 12 months, he continued: "You're built up as quite an indestructible athlete. All of the nans, the grandads, the younger people, the middle-aged people who come up to me in the street don't want to talk about football." The one-off special, which aired on the BBC last June, showed how Rio dealt with his loss as he adjusted to life as a single parent.

MORE: Rio Ferdinand pays tribute to girlfriend Kate Wright after 'a tough year'

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Rio's wife Rebecca died in 2015

Towards the end of his speech, Rio diverted his attention to girlfriend Kate, who was sat in studio audience, and thanked her for her support. "Those people lacking in character in confidence, it has encouraged to give them a voice. This documentary has given something to my three kids," he shared. "This documentary has propelled me forward into a period of happiness where my kids are happy I've got a beautiful girlfriend. Thank you, BBC, thank you very much." The sports star lost his wife Rebecca in 2015 following a short battle with cancer, leaving him as the primary carer for his three children, Lorenz, Tate and Tia. Rio and Kate have been dating for just over a year and in September, Kate announced that she was stepping out of the spotlight to focus on her relationship with the footballer and his three kids.

WATCH: Rio Ferdinand reveals heartbreaking final words he would say to wife Rebecca

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