HEARTS and Hibs fans were united in grief as a crowd of several hundred gathered for the funeral of tragic young footballer Jamie Skinner.
Family, friends and former teammates, many in football colours, braved icy winds and rain to say goodbye to the popular 13-year-old at Craigmillar Castle Park Cemetery yesterday.
Football rivalries were put aside just hours after the derby clash as Hearts manager Gary Locke and Hibs captain Liam Craig were amongst the mourners to pay their respects.
Former Hearts youth team player Jamie died from a suspected heart attack after making his debut for Tynecastle FC days before Christmas.
Dad George Skinner, 54, led the tributes to his son, saying football was his “true passion”.
“Jamie had one true passion in life and that was football, although he was very good at basketball, too,” he said. “He always had a smile on his face and he loved a practical joke. I’m sure some of you here fell for it.
“He will be sadly missed by his family and friends. He will never be forgotten and always held in our hearts forever more.”
Standing beside his son’s grave, Mr Skinner announced plans to set up a foundation in his memory to benefit young footballers in the Capital and in Nigeria, where his mother, Queen, is originally from.
During the service, she wept as Festus Olatunde, pastor of the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries Edinburgh church, spoke of the impact made in Jamie’s “short life”.
He said: “Jamie made everyone he met in Edinburgh, Africa and Nigeria proud, and his fans will miss him every day. Jamie was loved by everyone as can be seen here today.”
A football-shaped wreath and another spelling “Jamie” were amongst the floral tributes to line his coffin as the funeral cortege entered the open-air venue.
Another read: “With deepest sympathies from the staff at Saughton and Edinburgh Leisure” – where the youngster collapsed in front of horrified onlookers on December 22. Talented Hibs teenager David Paul, 18, who played for the club’s under-20s side, was found dead in his bed by his parents on the same day.
Former Hearts player Gary Mackay said the boys’ deaths had united supporters across the city.
He said: “I think at times like these it shows the unity there is within the game as it puts everything in perspective.
“I know there were representatives from Hearts, Hibs and Motherwell, and I am sure it will be the same with David Paul at his funeral.”