Rio Ferdinand's children have been ''part of every stage'' of his relationship with Katie Wright.

The former professional Manchester United soccer player started dating the 26-year-old reality TV star earlier this year and, although things seem to be going well between them, he has admitted their romance wouldn't have got off the ground if his kids Lorenz, 11, Tate, nine, and Tia, six, didn't like her.

Speaking on 'This Morning' on Thursday (05.10.17), the 38-year-old sports pundit said: ''I'm in a relationship and it's going well. My kids deserve to be happy. They have to be part of that conversation [about my relationships] ... There has not been any stage in this relationship they have not been part of. From the introducing ... I will always make sure they are part of any conversation that can be affect their lives.''

This is Rio's first relationship since his wife Rebecca Ellis - who he was married to from 2009 until 2015 - tragically died two years ago following a short battle with breast cancer.

And he has admitted his tragic loss has encouraged him to be more emotional because he wants his children to know that it's perfectly normal to mourn their mother.

He explained: ''I never saw affection and love [growing up] ... [As a footballer] if you saw any guys showing emotion that might mean they're not good enough ... [I worry about not saying I love you enough] ... They are the things that will keep you up at night and stick around... Now I am not making the same mistake with my kids, my kids, the people I love know exactly how I feel about them.''

Rio also tragically lost his mother Janice St. Fort this year following a long battle with cancer.