Matt Salmon much loved former physio with Mansfield Town FC has died aged 25.
The club said it was deeply saddened to announce the news this morning.
The 25-year-old, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010, announced his retirement from football on Wednesday following a recent consultation with doctors.
In his final hours, he was surrounded by his family and passed away peacefully, the club were told.
The 25-year-old enjoyed three-and-a-half-years at the club, which included a spell as first team physiotherapist.
Speaking on Wednesday, Matt said: “I have immensely enjoyed every single moment since joining Mansfield Town, three-and-half years ago. Every single member of playing and coaching staff have been incredibly supportive of my situation and have always given me the opportunity to do the job that I love.
“It has been an incredibly difficult decision to resign from my dream job at the age of 25 but unfortunately I have reached a stage where I am not able to give our players the level of care they deserve, something I have strived to do since I joined the club and made a minimum requirement for all medical staff who I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
“I have worked alongside and for some incredibly talented medical staff, coaching staff and managerial staff since 2014 and every single one of them has played a role in shaping me to become the physio that I have become today.
“Personally and professionally I would like to thank all the staff working at Brooksby with the academy - every single one of you have provided support on so many levels and I will never forget the things you have done for me.
“I would like to specifically thank John Dempster (academy manager) and Mark Hawkins (co-youth director) for their support during the last two years since we started the academy. Their help, guidance and encouragement has been a massive comfort to both me and my family and has made the past few months that much more tolerable.
“I would also like to thank Steve Evans (manager) and John and Carolyn Radford (chairman and chief executive) for their kind messages since discovering the news.
“The fact that people who achieved so much in the game offer their time and support shows what sort of club Mansfield Town is and mirrors the principles that the town was built on.
“Finally I would like to thank what I feel is the best medical department in the League and the support you have all given me.
“Lee Taylor (fitness and rehabilitation coach), Dan Kett (head physio) Lizzie Read (sports therapist), Tom Chapman (assistant academy physio), Dr Prabu (club doctor) and I have progressed the department into one which demands the highest standards and will always look to provide the best possible treatment for our players.
“When I joined the club we had two full-time medical staff and when I leave, there will be a team of six.
“I think that shows the ambition the club has to go to the next level and I feel that under Steve Evans and his team, we will achieve our ultimate goal.
“I will finish by wishing the club, players, staff and fans all the best for next season and I look forward to the club playing League One football, which everyone at the club deserves.”
Chairman John Radford said: “We are terribly sad to receive this news. Matt was a true credit to himself and his family.
“He will be remembered by everyone at Mansfield Town for his enthusiasm and the second-to-none quality of care in the treatment and rehabilitation of players. But above all that, he was a thoroughly decent person and we will miss him.
“We offer our sincere condolences to Matt’s family at this very sad time.”
Manager Steve Evans said: “It would be fair to say that this is a real sad day for everyone connected with Mansfield Town Football Club.
“As soon as I heard the news this afternoon, it dampened by heart and my thoughts immediately go to Matt’s family.
“They have lost a wonderful husband, son and brother and we, his football family, have not only lost an outstanding professional, but a true friend.”
In a statement, youth directors Mark Hawkins and Steve Hymas said: “Matt was an inspirational person, taken far too young.
“His dedication to Mansfield Town Football Club knew no limits and he will be forever remembered by everyone at the academy. Matt was so proud to work at Mansfield Town Football Club and we were so proud to have him as a valuable member of our team.
“His input towards the club’s acquirement of EPPP status was remarkable and he has helped lay the foundations to help improve the quality of players for future generations at the Football Club.
“Above all, we will remember Matt as a caring, warm young man with an admirable spirit, who loved his job and the people with whom he worked. We hold in our thoughts his family at this sad time.”
Academy manager John Dempster said: “Matt has been taken from his family and friends far too soon, but the foundations he has laid at the academy will live on for years to come, along with the wonderful memories we have of him.
“On behalf of all the academy staff, I can say that we were all grateful to work with him on a daily basis and our thoughts are with his family and friends, who he was so proud of. Rest in peace, Matt.”