7th March 2010
By Matthew Kalman
The stunning Israeli model said to have had a fling with England captain Rio Ferdinand just days before his wedding has revealed how the footballer seduced her – but insists they never slept together.
The Manchester United defender, who was given the skipper’s job when John Terry was sacked over his extramarital affair, bombarded Tslil Sela with flirtatious texts and phonecalls, claiming he was unattached.
But when he did get the 21-year-old alone in a Tel Aviv hotel bedroom, she turned down his advances – and they spent the night talking about psychology instead.
Although she never again heard from Ferdinand after he flew back to Britain for his £5million wedding to the mother of his two young children, Rebecca Ellison, Ms Sela insists the 31-year-old was a ‘gentleman’.
Tslil Sela says Rio Ferdinand tried to seduce her but that they never slept together
She met Ferdinand – who has been trying to transform his reputation from wild party animal to respectable role model – last June, when he was in Israel for the wedding of a friend’s daughter.
They had both been invited to the opening of a health club, where they instantly hit it off.
‘There was this click immediately,’ Tslil told The Mail on Sunday. ‘I was there with all these beautiful models who were trying to impress him, but I didn’t really know who he was.
'I did think he looked cute. He called me over and told me to stay and talk to him. That evening he sent me a text message to meet up with him at the Clara nightclub. I said OK.’
The Israeli brunette – a student who became a part-time model after appearing on a reality TV show – spent the evening dancing with Ferdinand. At about 3am, he invited a dozen people back to his hotel, the David Intercontinental.
Tslil Sela with Rio Ferdinand and another friend in Tel Aviv
A lot of alcohol flowed, but she said neither she nor Ferdinand were drinking. After a while, the footballer asked everyone to leave, and soon they were alone on the bed.
‘It was crazy, I know,’ she admitted. ‘I thought we might make out a little bit, but that’s all. I asked him if he was seeing someone and he said no. We started kissing.
'He put his hand under my top. Then he took his shirt off. He kept his underwear on. He started touching me and then I stopped him.
‘I was shocked. I’ve never been in any situation even close to this. He asked me what was wrong. I told him I was nervous and he told me, “OK, just cool off.” Then he continued, so I stopped him again and said it was too much for me.
Model Tslil enjoyed Rio Ferdinand's company during his stag week
I told him I didn’t even know him. I freaked out because he was moving fast. He saw that, so he stopped.
‘He definitely wanted sex and when I said no, he was really shocked and disappointed. You could tell no one had ever said no to him.
I said, “What’s so shocking about it? I don’t even know you. Does every woman who doesn’t know you sleep with you?”
‘I was really innocent. I’d had boyfriends, but I had never gone back to a guy’s place on a first date. I was not used to someone that was just trying to get me into bed. But I thought to myself, what a gentleman that he takes “no” for an answer.’
Tslil was shocked to discover that Ferdinand was engaged
After the failed seduction, Ferdinand moved, uncharacteristically, to more cerebral matters.
‘We talked for about an hour and a half,’ Tslil said. ‘He talked about me studying psychology and wanted my observations about him.
‘How do you describe a guy you don’t know after you’ve studied psychology for only a year? So I said general things. I said that maybe sometimes he feels a bit alone. He stopped me and said, “You know, that’s exactly right”. He said everybody thinks they know him and says he’s sleazy.
‘He said he wasn’t like that, but was gentle and sensitive, not as sleazy as they always say. He was sounding too sweet, when I think about it. After we finished talking, we went back to the others. They were all drunk. Then we left.’
However, they continued to see each other, spending the next four nights dancing at the Clara – although Tslil never again returned to his hotel.
Ferdinand and his wife Rebecca, who wed last year and have two children together
Nevertheless, Ferdinand bombarded her with texts and calls, promising to fly her to the UK and buy her gifts, telling her how beautiful she was, calling her ‘minx’ and saying he couldn’t wait to be alone again with her.
‘I thought it was serious. I even told my family about him,’ Tslil said. ‘I thought he would send me a ticket to London and I could hang out with him. He looked like he was someone decent and sensitive.’
On June 17, at 1.46am, he sent her a text just before boarding his plane home: ‘Don’t worry, we will meet up again.’ That was the last she heard from him. Two weeks later, she was devastated to read that he had married Rebecca.
At first, she says, she felt betrayed, but now just wishes Ferdinand well.
‘You can’t interfere in other people’s relationships,’ she said. ‘Only she [Rebecca] knows if it’s good for her to stay or not. He has to deal with the consequences.’
But she added his off-the-field behaviour shouldn’t affect his England job. ‘I don’t have any wish to see him fail because of this,’ she said. ‘I wouldn’t want to be the cause of him losing the captaincy like John Terry.
‘I got hurt by him but I don’t want his life to be destroyed. I just hope what happened with me will make him stop sleeping with other girls.’
Ferdinand’s football agent Pini Zahavi said last night: ‘I don’t know her and I was with Rio most of the time while he was there.
‘There were a lot of people with him all the time, so it would have been very difficult. She has been trying to sell the story.’