HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to a 26-year-old footballer who died after a battle with cancer.
Tom Arnold, of Newton Lane, Chester, had played as a defender for Dee Rangers FC, based at Upton Recreation Centre, for about five years.
The popular player, who was described by friends as an avid Chester FC fan, had become the club’s secretary.
Peter Mort, who played football alongside Tom for a number of years before becoming manager of the team, said he was ‘one of the nicest blokes’.
He said: “Tom was a really popular, really nice lad. He was completely reliable, willing to do his bit and more. I would describe him as genuine. He liked a pint as well.
“He was a really lovely bloke, one of the nicest blokes I have ever come across in my life.”
He added: “It was a pleasure to play football with him and have him play football for me.”
Keith Bolton, vice-chairman of Chester Sunday League, said he had known Tom “quite well” through football.
He said: “I knew he wasn’t very well about eight months ago . He kept going until the end. He was cheerful and never had a bad word to say about anyone. I remember him as a total team player.
“He was just a nice lad. He took on a few responsibilities as secretary of the club. Everyone liked him. It’s a shame to lose him at 26.”
Former manager of Dee Rangers, Andy Bennion, said: “When it came to local football, Tom immediately had an impact on the club with his positive attitude and his energy. Very quickly after coming to play for the team, he took on the role as secretary. For a new player, that shows what a willing person he was.
“He was about as nice as a person could get. He was very positive, very polite and everything about him was spot on.”
Chris Brooks, former secretary of Dee Rangers, said: “Tom was a really nice lad and it is really sad news.”
A funeral is due to take place at 12.45pm on Tuesday, June 26, at St Columba’s Catholic Parish Church, Plas Newton Lane.