Tributes paid to footballer's father

IT should have been a day of celebration for the Waite family.For the first time in seven months John Waite sat proudly in the stands of Luton's Kenilworth Road football ground watching his son Jamie on trial with Stevenage Borough's reserve side.

IT should have been a day of celebration for the Waite family.

For the first time in seven months John Waite sat proudly in the stands of Luton's Kenilworth Road football ground watching his son Jamie on trial with Stevenage Borough's reserve side.

But the day turned to tragedy when Mr Waite, of Green Hill, Coddenham, suffered a massive heart attack and died within minutes.

Jamie, a goalkeeper who became the second youngest international ever when he played for Thailand at 15, said: "I took a goal kick and all of a sudden I saw this lady and a few stewards run on the pitch.

"I didn't know what was going on. I thought it was a bomb scare.

"They said 'you've got to get to the stand, Jamie'.

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"When I saw my dad I just knew in my heart he was dead. I knew he was gone."

Paramedics tried to save Mr Waite but he was pronounced dead on arrival at Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

The March 29 game was abandoned with Luton leading 4-0. Since the game Jamie and his mother Jitpirom , 52, have been battling to come to terms with Mr Waite's death.

Jamie said: "Everything has just been a complete shock.

"I was very distraught last week. This week I've had to be strong for my mother.

"It was a massive heart attack. They said he died instantly."

Mrs Waite, who had been married to Mr Waite for 21 years, has been inundated with messages of condolence from supporters of both Luton and Stevenage who were at the ground.

She said: "They've all said how sorry they are and I don't even know them.

"The clubs have sent letters too."

Mr Waite, 70, had travelled to the Luton ground with his wife, who is from Thailand, from their Coddenham home to watch Jamie, 19, play.

A former boxer, commander in the Royal Navy and naval attaché to Thailand where he met his wife, Mr Waite had spent recent years helping his son pursue his career as a professional footballer.

For the previous seven months he had not been able to watch his son in action because he was playing with Rotherham United in Yorkshire.

Mrs Waite said: "He loved football, he was the same as Jamie.

"On that day he was very happy he was going to see Jamie play."

Jamie, Mr Waite's only son, added: "Most of my games have been up north so my dad hasn't been able to watch me.

"He was getting really agitated in the car on the way there because he thought he was going to miss the kick off.

"Apparently during the course of the game he got quite excited.

"When I pulled off a save he jumped up to have a look. It was when he sat down that he collapsed."

While Mr Waite had had heart problems in the past, the family thought an operation about two months ago had put him in the clear.

"He had an operation to open an artery. They said his arteries were 85 per cent closed.

"When he had the operation they said they couldn't expand them to 100pc but they said they could improve them to 30 or 40pc closed."

Thai football officials are investigating the possibility of staging a memorial game for Mr Waite between the Thai national side and an English club.

Jamie resumed training with Stevenage on Monday and has been signed until the end of the season. He is now in talks with Chester City for the following two seasons.

The club is planning to send a representative to Mr Waite's funeral, which will be held at Ipswich Crematorium at 10.45am on Monday .

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