Tuesday, 21 Mar 2023

Heartbroken family's tribute to footballer, 23, who died on the pitch

Tributes have been paid to a 23-year-old footballer who his family ‘looked up too’ after he died whilst playing a match.

Michael Palmer was playing for Crowland Town FC against Leverington FC on Saturday when he collapsed and never regained consciousness.

Team-mates said Michael was ‘loving and caring’ while his family said their loss will be ‘forever felt’ and hope that more can be done to prevent young football players from dying.

His cause of death has not been revealed. Michael was remembered by his family for his love of football and gaming.

They also said it was ‘fitting’ that the Manchester United fan passed away playing the sport he loved.

His family said in a statement that Michael would ‘always find the time to be there for those he loved and cared for.’

They added: ‘He would always find a joke in a situation – and I am sure if he were here with us today – he would have found one and we would have laughed.

‘With a strong sense of duty, Michael wanted the best for those around him, and nothing was too much to ask. 

‘He was the very embodiment of valuing people and relationships above everything else. And with fervour and commitment, but with humility and confidence in equal measure, he inspired those around him to work harder, try harder, give a little more, walking alongside them and taking them with him on the journey.

Speaking about his love of gaming including FIFA and Call of Duty (CoD) his family said: ‘When playing it was common for those at home to rush to his room thinking that something was wrong, only to discover that he was shouting at the game. 

‘If you entered his room at any point, you would find him sitting there with two screens for his Xbox, a screen for his laptop, and his iPad all tuned in to games and live football streams – whilst messaging his friends from his phone.

‘Electricity and saving the planet seemed of secondary importance, to football and gaming – especially as he was not paying the bill.’

They added: ‘All that said, Michael’s first love, was Football, Crowland FC and Manchester United.

‘Like many of his generation he watched avidly as Manchester United achieved unparalleled and unrivalled success – and with me as a Tottenham supporter – we would joke that he was a glory hunter.

‘As he grew older, his passion for MU did not fade and he regularly went to games with his friends. Although a keen boxer and follower of F1, he remained faithful to football.

‘Though I think he had forgotten the early days of conversion-therapy where he wore a Tottenham shirt, with the same passion that he later wore the Manchester United one.

‘It is therefore fitting that Michael’s passing, notwithstanding the pain for those he leaves behind, was on the grassy velvet of the football pitch he so adored.

‘For many, Michael will be missed, and his family and friends have a void that can, and will never, be filled. But the memories we hold of him will stand the test of time.

‘Michael’s loss will be forever felt, and hurt fades to scars, his light will shine the brightest in our galaxy of stars. And though we will move forward, we should take solace in this pain, that Michael will never be forgotten, and we will all remember his name.

‘Our hope from this, yet another tragedy on the football pitch with one so young, is that more is done to identify those at risk earlier, prevent the deaths, and the emotional toil from those there when it happens and the aftermath.’

Michael’s best friend, Harry Grigas, said: ‘Palmer above everything was the greatest friend I could have ever asked for. 

‘I feel like we’ve lost one of the funniest and kindest people in the world. He would always go above and beyond to make people close to him happy.

‘He had so much potential in this world to be even greater than he was..

‘Every Wednesday he would message me ‘see you at 7:20 bro’ as we would meet at mine then head to training for Crowland. Every Saturday morning we would message each other good luck for our games.

‘I’m so hurt and upset I’ll never have those messages again. I’ll even be upset when I don’t get a message from him ranting about football or him constantly telling me how good he was during the game even if he wasn’t up to his standards truthfully.

‘Palmer words really can’t express how much you meant to me nor can they express how much I’m going to miss you.

‘I love you bro and can’t wait to see you again one day and have a kick about again.’

A statement from Crowland Town FC said: ‘We are sad to say Michael will leave a massive hole in our hearts. He was a genuine lovely lad who never gave us a moments trouble.

‘He was liked by everyone and will never be forgotten. Nothing was ever too much trouble and he always had a big smile on his face.’

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