Australian international teammates of Dylan Tombides have expressed their pure shock and sadness following the tragic passing of the young West Ham United striker.
At the tender age of just 20, Tombides lost his three-year battle with cancer on Friday morning with family by his side.
Tombides had represented the Joeys at the Under-17 World Cup in Mexico in 2011 and only just recently for the Olyroos at the AFC Under-22 Championships in Oman in January of this year.
The Youth International grew up in Perth and joined West Ham at age 15. He made his first-team debut for the Hammers against Wigan Athletic in the League Cup in 2012.
Bristol City fullback and former Joey Tom King had played alongside Tombides from the age of 10 and spoke highly of his former teammate.
“We became friends from playing at the same local club in Perth, to being selected as two WA boys to go on a trip over east to Parramatta Eagles,” King said.
“He was one of the few players I knew when I went to the Under-17 World Cup, he was the life and soul of the group. The player who brought everyone together, on and off the field. Whether we needed a leader or just a bit of banter.
“He was unfortunately diagnosed at the World Cup with testicular cancer, but he was so incredibly positive and strong. Not once throughout all of his treatment did he let it get him down, he was a fighter through exceptional circumstances.
“An absolute role model and inspiration to me and so many others that ever had the pleasure of knowing him.”
Tipped by many to be a Socceroo-in-waiting, in 2011 the then West Ham manager Avram Grant said in an interview that Tombides had the potential to emulate Harry Kewell.
Defender Curtis Good, who captained the Olyroos side at the Under-22 Championships in Oman described Tombides' passing as a massive shock.
“Dylan was a great person who loved his football,” he said.
“I only had the privilege of playing with Dylan recently but he was obviously very talented and respected by his teammates.”
Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United fans paid tribute to Tombide's at the 38th minute of Saturday's eliminational final with a minute's applause.
West Ham will also honour Tombides with a minute's applause before their home match against Crystal Palace this weekendcomments