Ben Foden has announced he has married his girlfriend Jackie Smith after two weeks of "dating seriously", and said his ex-wife Una Healy gave him her blessing.

Rugby player Foden and former Saturdays star Healy had been married for six years before splitting in July 2018. They are parents to two children, daughter Aoife and son Tadhg.

The 34-year-old sports star has now taken to Instagram to reveal that he and his new girlfriend tied the knot in a secret ceremony at the weekend. 

He shared a series of photos of their celebrations and posted a lengthy message about their decision to wed.

Foden wrote: "This last year has been by far my toughest and most turbulent for a number of reasons that many of you I'm sure are aware of, in some way or another.

"The world has a funny way of working things out, many people think I'm a bad person - as I'm sure they'll [sic] be many nasty comments left under this post by keyboard warriors a plenty [sic].

"But I met a girl who seriously swept me off my feet and in a time of hardship showed me love, a deep devoted love.

"People will say we are mad or crazy or even fools, as @snackyjax and I had only been dating seriously for a little over 2 weeks before deciding to get married.

"But when someone like her comes in to your life, why would I wait?

"The people who needed to know, such as close family and friends were told before anyone else and they are happy for me including my beautiful X wife @unahealy who I love even more for her blessing." [sic]

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He added: "Life is short and you only get one and it's worth living. Jackie is the greatest human being I've ever come across - she's beautiful inside and out, intelligent, charming, funny, generous, kind, gentle, energetic the list goes on.

"She will be a great step mum [sic] to Aoife and Tadhg and offers me a future I can't wait to explore with her. My heart is full and I honestly couldn't be happier, so those that want to bring negativity or try and tear me down go ahead.

"My life is great and I hope you all will one day feel happiness like I feel while I write this caption.

"I love you @snackyjax I can't wait to see where our lives lead together you brought excitement and joy to my life and I couldn't be prouder having [you] stand at my side as Mrs Foden."

Fans had speculated Foden had married when he posted a series of Instagram stories at the weekend, including one which showed him holding hands with Jackie and had the caption: "Yesterday was a pretty special day."