Manchester United and England football legend Rio Ferdinand has opened up in his life in lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic and he admits the challenges he faced with his wife Kate and their young family were also laced with moments to cherish. 

Rio Ferdiand

Rio Ferdiand

How was the lockdown for you and the family? How did you, Kate and the kids entertain yourselves to stop the boredom kicking in?  

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 in their teachers’ capable hands now! I think the whole period was physically and mentally challenging for a lot of people, learning to adapt and not being able to get out and about as much as we’re used to. 

Was it strange to spend so much time at home?

As my schedule is so busy, it felt strange to be at home a lot. Things were still hectic though and we were able to adapt and do things online. At the start of lockdown Kate and I did our own live workouts on Instagram, which I really enjoyed, and I also did an online series for my YouTube channel, called The Locker Room, speaking to some footballing legends about their careers. I’m fortunate that football was able to return, even when we were in quite strict lockdowns, so I was able to carry on my work and watching the game that I love.

What are your best memories from the extra time with the family?

Kate, the kids and I managed to get out on plenty of bike rides and walks around where we live too. We’re always active and do things like this as a family together, but it was nice to have the opportunity to do it a bit more and reset a little bit from our busy lives.

A very memorable moment that happened for our family during lockdown though was the birth of Cree! 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, 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.

Tell us about the ‘Ban the Bland’ campaign with Peperami! What made you want to get involved?

As a nation, we’ve got a bit of a reputation for our food being bland and boring. So, when Peperami asked me to get involved in the campaign, my competitive nature came out and I jumped at the chance to take part, eager to show people how we can do it better.

As part of the experiment, the crew had me try some of the nation’s food fails – which I was dreading! I wanted to see if some of the strange combinations could be wonderful, but on the day, they were just plain awful! Being an ex-footballer, the crew had me trying foods famous at matches – such as a ‘Wigan kebab’ and jellied eels, which weren’t for me.

My favourite part of the day was creating my snack solution – ‘The Snackadium’ – an edible football pitch perfect to tuck into when watching the Euros. The Peperami team gave me the power to go nuts and produce something really cool that I can’t wait to bring out when watching games with Kate and the kids.

You’ve spent a lot of time over the years either playing or watching football matches – what is your go-to snack when at the match and go-to snack at home?

When you’re playing football, it’s really important to keep up your energy levels throughout the match, so high-carb meals such as pasta and chicken were always my go-to before a game.

Now I’m on the go so much and I work as a pundit on live games for BT Sport, so I don’t need to be as specific about what I’m eating but still like to get the balance right- but the half time snacks are still important!

We usually get lots of options in the studio or I’ll take things with me from home. Something that is quick and easy that you can grab easily is good option. I always have a half time cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit, particularly to warm me up on the colder matchdays.

What food to you is boring, what are your food or snack nightmares and what is Kate always munching on? 

Basically, any food lacking in taste is an absolute no-go. I love big flavour combinations which is another reason I wanted to be a part of the ‘Ban the Bland’ campaign- I just can’t see the point of eating something tasteless.  The main thing I don’t like is food or snacks being too plain or dry.

After dinner, we do have a sweet tooth, so we treat ourselves to a range of sweets to relax in front of the TV.

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.

I have always been a fan of trying out foods, but I am an Italian food fan, that’s why I got involved in opening up a restaurant in Manchester called Rosso. I’m also a big fan of Pie and Mash! But you have to do it properly, with the liquor and all!

With food, it’s all about balance though, I like to enjoy my food but also make sure I’m keeping it balanced.

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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