Poignant tributes to tragic footballer, 22

FOOTBALLERS and fans paid a poignant tribute at the weekend to an up-and-coming player whose body was found in an Essex river on New Years Eve.

Roddy Ashworth

FOOTBALLERS and fans paid a poignant tribute at the weekend to an up-and-coming player whose body was found in an Essex river on New Years Eve.

A minute's applause rang out in memory of talented 22-year-old Adam Passfield at Scraley Road, the home of Heybridge Swifts FC, before their game against Maldon on Saturday.

Adam, who had been with the Swifts for four years, disappeared on December 19 after a festive night out with footballing colleagues in Chelmsford.

A major search was launched and his body was eventually found in the River Chelmer 11 days later, not far from the spot where he had last been seen.

Police are not treating his death as suspicious.

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Speaking at the Heybridge ground just before the 3pm kick-off on Saturday, club chairman Nick Bowyer paid tribute to Adam, who lived at Sharpington Close in Galleywood.

“I have got three sons, all in their 20s, and I cannot begin to comprehend how the family must feel,” Mr Bowyer said.

“My first reaction when it happened was that we would call the match off, but we spoke to the players personally and the feeling among most of them was that Adam would have wanted us to play it.

“We were going to have a minute's silence but Adam's father thought instead it should be a minute of applause.”

Mr Bowyer said that Adam's death had affected everyone at the club.

“It has been difficult because in a way the club is like a family. The terrible thing was the length of time it took to find him.

“Adam was just making a comeback as a player because he had a pre-season injury.

“He played a reserve game about a week before he went missing and scored a goal.”

Heybridge Swifts' manager Wayne Bond said that Adam had been close to a return to first team football, and the club had hoped he would add to the 37 appearances he had already made.

He added: “Adam was a quiet player in and around the dressing room but on the pitch he was what I used to call my 'Paul Scholes'. “He would quietly go about his job then suddenly, the ball would be in the net.

“He could spray a 30-yard pass to completely open up an opposition's defence in a second.

“He had quick feet and great vision.

“He will be sadly missed by myself and all the players that had the honour to call him a team mate.

“We will Miss You Passa.”

A statement issued by the club said: “Adam was an extremely popular lad and talented footballer; however more importantly he was a much loved son, brother and friend, and we share the loss and pain of those closest to him.

“The club would like to offer its thanks to our numerous friends in non-league football for their kind words and messages of support.”

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