LOOKING at her now, it’s hard to believe Kate Ferdinand was once one of the biggest stars on The Only Way Is Essex.
Rio Ferdinand’s wife – who turns 30 today – strutted onto TOWIE for the Marbella special in 2015, wearing a tiny bikini, calling herself the “Barbie” of Essex.
She famously once called her former co-star Megan McKenna a “dog” and her bust-ups with on-off boyfriend of five years Dan Edgar were shown to the whole nation.
Kate got into an argument with Chloe Lewis for “flirting” with Dan.
“I’ve seen you with Dan flirting. I think you’re really snakey,” she snapped after learning the pair had kissed before she was on the scene.
But, as she celebrates her 30th birthday today, Kate’s life couldn’t be more different.
Since meeting ex-Premier League footballer Rio in January 2017, everything has changed.
Kate is now married, and a mum to baby Cree, born in December last year, as well as a step-mum to Rio’s kids, Lorenz, 14, Tate, 12, and 10-year-old Tia – after their mum Rebecca did from cancer in 2015.
And even Kate can’t believe how much she’s turned her life around.
She previously told The Sun: “Every now and then a clip will come up of me on the TV and the kids will start laughing and be like, ‘Oh my God, that is not you!’
“I never saw myself here, of course. Life throws you in crazy directions and I do believe I am here for a reason.
“I am so grateful I met Rio and the children and that our lives are as they are now. But it is crazy to look back and see where I was and where I am now.
“Life will never be perfect, but we work at it and we love each other. That is all that matters.”
‘My world collapsed’
Rio’s first wife, Rebecca Ellison, tragically died from breast cancer in 2015, at the age of 34.
The footballer was heartbroken, and, as he previously put it, his “world collapsed”.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later, when he was holidaying in Dubai and met Kate that he started to gain the ability to move on.
Rio and Kate were at a mutual friend’s BBQ, and Rio asked his children if he could ask her on a date.
That March he was spotted leaving her home in Brentwood, Essex, and then three months later, in July 2017, they were spotted holding hands with Tia.
They went public the next month, when they shared pictures of Kate taking part in Cancer Research UK’s Race For Life with Rio’s sister Sian, and some family holiday snaps from Portugal.
But Kate had no idea their relationship would lead to marriage.
“Rio and I just clicked. I knew about the children and what had happened but at first I didn’t give it much thought,” she told the Daily Mail’s YOU magazine.
“When you meet someone you’re just enjoying the moment, not thinking about how serious things might become.”
Shunning the spotlight
Kate was extremely wary of the fact Rio had three kids of his own right from the start.
She even made sure to ban any mention of them from TOWIE before quitting entirely to look after Rio and his children.
Kate also cut ties with numerous brands as well as her agent.
She previously explained why she took a step back from the limelight – and the kids were right at the heart of her decision.
She said: “I had two choices.
“I’m in this world with lots of drama and then I met Rio and the children and, I thought, ‘I’m with these kids, who have lost their mum, they don’t need a woman who is out all the time.'”
She continued: “They need someone at home with them. A really big part of our relationship and it working for the children is that we’ve included them in everything we’ve done.
“So from the first date, him asking me to be his girlfriend, us moving in — everything — the kids were part of it.
“So it wasn’t me taking their dad away from them, it was more us becoming a family unit.”
A new mum
While Kate treats Rio’s kids like they’re her own, her 30th birthday marks her first as a biological mum, having given birth to Cree on 18th December 2020.
She recently explained how becoming a mum has changed her outlook on life.
Despite being a keen gym fanatic, Kate insists she no longer spends so much time making herself look glamorous.
She previously told The Sun: “There is a lot of pressure to bounce back but I don’t feel it is realistic with a newborn baby and three other children.
“I would love to look how I looked before Cree but I am not putting a load of pressure on myself because things don’t always go to plan when you have a baby.
“You might plan to eat healthily and go to the gym. But then something happens and you still haven’t cooked dinner, so you end up snacking.
“I just thought, ‘I need to enjoy this moment with my family rather than freaking out about whether I do or don’t feel good, or whether I don’t look like how I used to look’.
“Obviously I love the gym and I love exercising. But I might not make my session every day because the baby might not have slept and I am really tired.
“I am not putting that pressure on myself. I try to move when I can, I will try and exercise more and I will try and eat more healthily.
“But if I fancy a vodka because I need one, I won’t beat myself up about it.
“People do comment on what you look like, so I was a bit nervous about uploading stuff at the beginning.
“I felt like everyone expected me to look a certain way.
“I thought, ‘If I keep putting up amazing photos all the time it just isn’t my reality’. I’m sitting at home in my gym clothes with no make-up on four days a week.”
Instead, Kate spends her days make-up free, “running after the kids”.
She told the Daily Mail: “You don’t realise how tired you will become [having a baby]!
“I knew with having three older kids it can be tiring but being a mum to a newborn is a whole new level.”
She also confirmed that she doesn’t want another child, as “four is enough”.
She added: “There’s already a lot going on and lots of crying.
“It’s a busy house. So I think I’d be a madwoman if I wanted any more! Four is plenty for now.”
Quality time together
Despite their busy lives, Rio has insisted he and Kate “always try and find time to spend some quality time together and have a date night.”
He added: “We’ve both got such busy schedules, so it’s important that we make time for each other.
“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.”
Speaking of how good a housewife Kate is these days, Rio even said: “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!”
And it may be that tonight will be the couple’s first proper date night, as Rio wants to head out together – rather than staying in.
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He said: “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 Ferdinand has been challenged by Peperami to take on the nation’s food fails and trial Britain’s saddest snacks. To watch the full episode, visit @PeperamiTV on Instagram.