Hundreds of tributes have been paid to a young footballer from Co Antrim who passed away on Wednesday morning.
Sammy Haveron, 11, was a member of the 2007 team at Wellington Rec Youth in Larne.
He was being treated in the Royal Victoria Hospital after collapsing during a training session last week, the Larne Times reported.
A statement posted on the club’s Facebook page yesterday read: “Unfortunately this morning young Sammy Haveron lost his fight. We as a club are devastated to lose Sammy, who was a very valued member of the 2007 team.
“Sammy loved his football and loved Wellington Rec, which was clear to see in training and in matches. Our thoughts go out to Eddie, Gina and the family at this devastating time.”
Sammy, pictured, was due to start secondary school this autumn and was a past pupil of Linn Primary School.
In a statement, the school described Sammy, as a “much loved and courageous pupil”.
Andrew Ritchie, vice-principal at Linn, added: “Sammy played football at the school and he was a very popular pupil. He was a lovely boy, a pleasure to teach.”
Rivals Larne Youth Football Club said now was the time to set aside “fierce competitiveness” and surround their rivals with comfort and support.
“We are absolutely numb with the sad news of the passing of young Sammy Haveron, a 2007 player with our neighbours Wellington Rec Youth FC,” Larne Youth Football Club said.
“Clearly a popular young man, many of our coaches and players know Sammy through football and outside the white lines of the football pitch.
“Football is full of rivalry and fierce competitiveness. At times like this however, that all pales into insignificance and as part of the wider football family we surround our friends at Wellington Rec to provide them with our support and comfort in this time of great sadness.”
Dozens of other youth teams posted similar messages of support, including Lisburn Distillery, Ballymena United, Glentoran and Carrick Rangers. Hundreds of individuals also posted personal messages.
Andrew Davidson said he saw “the wee man” playing for his school recently and remembers thinking that he “put in some shift, covered every blade of grass, working for the team”.
Claire Crawford described his death as “so heartbreaking”. She added: “Can’t begin to imagine what the family must be going through right now. Rest in peace Sammy.”
Victoria McGaughey said she was “utterly devastated” for his mother and father, Gina and Eddie and the wider family circle. “No words could come anywhere close to console you right now, but please know you are all in our thoughts and prayers.”
Anne Shaw paid tribute to Sammy’s personality. “Such a lovely, kind wee boy who was everyone’s friend at school,” she said.
Gillian Graham agreed. “Sammy was such a lovely kind caring wee boy who will be missed by everyone,” she said.