Little Rio a battler too!

ON paper they don't have much in common. One weighs in at just under 14 stone, while the other tips the scales at a little over 5lbs.One is 6ft 3ins while the other, fully stretched, is a touch more than 18 inches.

This little one's namesake fetched a £30m price tag but to his grateful and adoring parents the tiny treasure is priceless.

Baby Rio Samoson weighs just over 5lbs – nowhere near the 14 stone Rio Ferdinand.

But because the premature baby shares the same battling spirit as the England defender his parents thought it the ideal name.

When tiny Rio was born 12 weeks prematurely and weighing just 2lbs and 12oz, his parents Emma Howlett and John Simpson worried for his health.

Emma, 27, who had only gone into hospital for a check up, was amazed when her baby arrived less than two hours later.

Although staff at Ipswich Hospital's Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) reassured them both babies born three months early have a 95% survival rate, they worried.

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She said: "They told us to expect some ups and downs. It was frightening because it was such a shock, it was all so sudden."

While monitoring the baby's weight was the nurses' priority, the parents wanted to name their bundle of joy – and where better to look for inspiration to match their baby's fighting spirit than the England squad then battling the World Cup in Japan.

Emma, from The Street, Bramford, said: "Because he was early we hadn't come up with a list of names. The World Cup was on and we went through the squad."

Until then Harry and Alfie had been front runners, Then the saw England defender Rio Ferdinand.

But for Rio's dad John – a dedicated Ipswich fan – it took the England match against Denmark before he was convinced.

He said: "A week after he was born, I was on my way to the game and one of my friends said if Ferdinand scores then we would have to call him Rio."

Sure enough the towering defender scored in first five minutes in the 3-0 victory over the Danes.

John, a 29-year-old civil engineer, said: "That was it. It had to be Rio – short and sweet, just like him."

Both John and Emma, a business analyst, praised the dedication of staff at Ipswich Hospital's Special Care Baby Unit where Rio stayed until August 3.

John said: "Before Rio, I had hardly even heard of them but they were all absolutely superb."

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