THE family of ex-footballer James Dean whose body was found yesterday said he was “genuine and gentle”.
Devastated relatives and teammates have paid tribute to the 35-year-old dad who was last seen in Oswaldtwistle near Blackburn on May 5.
Cops today confirmed a body found yesterday is that of missing James, who played for several clubs including Stalybridge Celtic, Chorley and FC Halifax Town.
Lancashire Police said his death was “not being treated as suspicious”.
In a tribute his family said: “As a family we are utterly heartbroken and we can’t believe our James has really gone.
“We are still hoping he will walk back through the door and give us one of his smiles.
“James was a loving father to his boys, a son, grandson, nephew and a brother and he will be desperately missed by so many.
“He was such a genuine and gentle person who would go out of his way to help anyone who needed it
“We would like to thank everyone in the community who has helped in the search for James over the last few days and everyone at Brave Church for their love and support.
“We would also ask that people please don’t speculate about what happened to James as it’s not fair for us as a family – especially his boys – to read these things. The truth will come out in good time.
“While we are touched by all the lovely things people have said about James we would ask that we are now left in peace to try and come to terms with what has happened.”
Neighbours today spoke of their shock at James’ death after joining the search when he was reported missing.
One nearby resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s just tragic. I didn’t know him personally, but a lot of people around here joined the search for him.
“It was harrowing to see the emergency services in the car park. It’s just so sad and everyone is thinking of his family.”
Another neighbour said they arrived home to the “traumatising” scene of emergency services on the street.
He said: “It’s just so sad. We didn’t know him, but we had seen the appeals for information and we were hoping he would be found safe.
“He was so young, it’s absolutely no age. No family should have to suffer such a tragic loss.”
Ex-Blackburn Rovers star Matt Jansen, who played with the James at Chorley, said he was “devastated” by the news.
Meanwhile former Halifax captain Danny Lowe described James as “big gentle giant” and a “goal machine”.
More to follow…
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