TRIBUTES have poured in following the news non-league footballer Thomas Rankin has sadly passed away at the age of 26.
The devastating news was announced by his team, sparking an outpouring of emotional messages.
A statement read: “Redditch United are devastated to hear of passing of midfielder Thomas Rankin.
“Tom has been with the Reds for the past three seasons and his loss will be felt by all at the Club.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this time. RIP Tom.”
The semi-professional club, who compete in The Southern League, most recently played AFC Rushden & Diamonds, who were quick to pay their respects.
They tweeted: “Having been with you all yesterday, We are devastated to read this awful news this afternoon.
“Our thoughts are with you all and with Tom’s friends & family.”
Leamington, who Rankin briefly played for, added: “Our sincere condolences to everybody at Redditch and to Tom’s friends and family.
“He played for us briefly upon our return to the National League North 5 years ago. A truly sad loss. Thoughts are with all who knew him.”
Rankin, who is listed as aged 26 on Bromsgrove Sporting FC’s website, was a graduate of Loughborough University.
Via Birmingham Live, in a Facebook post, his mum Wendy paid tribute to her boy.
She wrote: “Tom you are the best son, you have always made us so proud, you are our world.
“There are no words for how much we will miss you. You have achieved so much in your short life.
“We would give everything to have you back with us. Rest in Peace with all our love Mom and Dad.”
Redditch United manager Matt Clarke tweeted: “Life is so precious people. We often take things for granted I know I do.
“In reality certain things really aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things.
“A special person left us today and words cannot describe how special this lad was.”