Tributes flood in for footballer Ben Obiora

TRIBUTES have been paid to a young footballer who died after collapsing while playing football in Buxton.

The 16-year-old, named locally as Ben Obiora, collapsed while playing for Dove Holes FC Reserves against Blazing Rag in the Hope Valley League on Saturday afternoon.

He was taken to Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, where he later died.

A statement on the Hope Valley League website reads: “The league extends their sincere condolences to Ben’s family and friends and would request that all teams hold a period of silence in respect of Ben, who just wanted to play football.”

Friends and schoolmates have taken to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to pay heartwarming tributes to the popular Year 11 St Thomas More School pupil, described as a “talented and bright student”.

Jane Newman posted on Facebook “So shocked and devastated by this tragic news. Ben, you were a bright, charming and cheeky young man. You had such a great future to look forward to. You have left a lasting mark on everyone that knew you and you will be missed terribly. Heaven has a bright new angel. xxx.”

Another tribute on Twitter read: “RIP Ben Obiora. Quality football player. Always man of the match when I played against you. Thoughts are with your family! Gone too soon X.”

Brendan Hickey, Headteacher at St Thomas More School, wrote yesterday (Saturday) on the school’s website: “I am sorry to report the sad news that Ben Ody-Obiora, one of our year 11 students, passed away this afternoon.

“I will be opening the school tomorrow (Sunday) from 9am for those year 11s (or others) who want to be together at this sad time.”

A minute’s silence was planned to be held prior to today’s games involving Buxton RUFC U17s Colts and Tideswell United FC Veterans as a mark of respect to Ben.

Enquiries are underway by Greater Manchester Police to establish the circumstances surrounding his death, which is not being treated as suspicious.