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Monday, 08 October 2012 (3031328)
Tributes paid to talented Tarleton footballer
by David Simister

TRIBUTES to a talented football coach from Tarleton who took his talents to one of America's best known football teams have been led this week by his former PE teacher.

Mike Jones, 25, who was pursuing a promising career as a football coach for the New York Red Bulls team, was fatally stabbed in New York last Sunday morning.

Simon Bland, his former PE teacher at Tarleton High School was among those who paid tribute this week, and told The Champion: “Every three or four years you come across someone who stands out and Mike was definitely one of those people - I first saw his talent through his swimming, but in any sport you could show him the skills once, he would pick them, and improve on them. He had a lot of natural talent.

”But unlike a lot of people who are good at sport he wasn't big-headed or full of himself in any way - he just got on with it, and was quiet, but very professional and talent. As he went up through the years at Tarleton High School he was someone you could use as a role model for the younger pupils, because he not only had a lot of natural ability, but he had a great attitude too.“

Mr Jones, who coached New York Red Bulls' juniors, was declared dead on arrival at Bellevue Hospital, New York, last Sunday morning (October 7). The New York Police Department confirmed to national media that a homicide investigation was underway, after NYPD officers were called to a spot near 25 West 14th Street after Mr Jones was involved in a stabbing at around 4.26am local time (9.26am in the UK).

A spokesman for New York Red Bulls said in a statement: ”We are aware of this tragedy and on behalf of the entire organization, want to send our most heartfelt condolences to Michael's family, friends, and loved ones.

“He was a tremendous individual, a fantastic coach who loved soccer, and a terrific friend for many of us.”

The team is one of the best known in US Major League soccer, with current players include ex English Premier League stars Thierry Henry, formerly of Arsenal, and Tim Cahill, who played for Everton.

Tarleton Corinthians, one of the West Lancashire teams Mr Jones played for before his move to the States, also paid tribute, with chair Betty Parkinson describing the incident as “absolutely horrendous”, while he is also fondly remembered as a former player for Hesketh Bank FC.

Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, which Mr Jones graduated from in 2008, was also among those to pay tribute.

A university spokesperson said: “Edge Hill University would like to express its shock and sadness at the news of the death of alumnus Michael Jones as a result of this horrific crime. He was a hardworking student who was popular with his peers and with staff from the Department of Sport and Physical Activity.

”He had a bright future ahead of him, having a forged a successful coaching career in the USA following his graduation. Deepest sympathies are extended to Michael’s family and friends who are in our thoughts at this difficult time.“

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said:”We are aware of a British national in New York in the early hours of Saturday morning. We are providing consular assistance to the family.“


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