THE family of a promising teenage football player who collapsed and died on the pitch have spoken of their agony.
Sonia McCraw, the sister of Jamie Skinner, revealed today her brother had died of a suspected heart attack.
She said his death was even more shocking as “he was built like a tank” and never even had a cold.
Jamie collapsed as he made his debut for Tynecastle FC on Sunday just a week after being released by Hearts.
He died within hours after another teenage football tragedy hit the city with 18-year-old Hibs starlet David Paul being found dead in his bed.
Today Sonia, 25, called for defibrillators to be sited at sporting venues to treat victims of cardiac failure.
She said: “You don’t expect a healthy, fit 13-year-old to just die. His heart stopped.
“Jamie never got sick, not the flu, or a cold. I just can’t believe he’s gone. You never expect something horrible like this to happen. We’re just trying to hold it together for the family and my boys. They absolutely adored him. He would play football with them for hours”.
Jamie’s brother-in-law Steven McCraw was at the match and witnessed the tragedy first-hand. He said : “Jamie fell backwards almost as if he had been shot. I thought he was joking around at first. I ran over to him and he started screaming but then lay completely lifeless.
“I think a nurse tried to give him mouth-to-mouth, everything. She tried her hardest but I just knew, when I looked at him, that he was gone”.
Jamie’s teammates yesterday gathered to leave tributes at the side of the pitch where he collapsed.
Players from the Tynecastle FC under-14 squad left flowers and handwritten messages on the touchline at Saughton.
It came as officials continued discussions with Jamie’s family over how to honour his memory, while Hibs are speaking with the parents of their under-20s starlet David Paul, 18, who died on Sunday at his Fairmilehead home.
Calls have been made for a minute’s silence to be held before the New Year derby on January 2 to remember both players.
Thirty of Jamie’s friends are to hold a memorial match at Inch Park on December 30, with money raised going to the British Heart Foundation
Police said that the postmortems had yet to be held to determine the causes of death for both boys.
Clad in club tracksuits and joined by coaching staff and family members, his team-mates left flowers and a Hearts scarf beside the pitch yesterday afternoon.
A popular pupil at Liberton High School, friends of Jamie left dozens of tributes on Facebook and Twitter. One Facebook tribute site, RIP Jamie Skinner, had more than 7000 likes last night.
Stephen Kelly, headteacher at the school, said: “Jamie was a lovely lad, a credit to his family. He was an incredibly enthusiastic learner, his positivity and determination shone out from him.
“He was well-liked and respected by his whole peer group and he was a real leader. Jamie was also the most accomplished athlete in our school, he dominated sports day every year and was the driving force behind our successful S2 football team.
“Everyone in our school community will miss him.”
David Paul was discovered dead in his bed by his parents on Sunday morning, just hours after attending a party with teammates.
Mike Riley, chairman of the Hibs Supporters Club, said: “The deaths of these two boys, just 13 and 18, is completely shattering. Our deepest sympathies go to their families at this terrible time.
“Without a doubt there should be a minute’s silence at the derby. Fans from both clubs are mourning and I’m sure they will come together in grief at the game.”
Simon Kinghorn, vice chairman of Tynecastle FC, said: “A minute’s silence at the derby would be a welcome tribute. I’m sure anything that is done will be guided by the wishes of both families.
“All teams in the South East Region league will observe a minute’s silence at their next games, which will take place after the New Year.”
A Hibs spokesman said: “We’ll be talking with David’s family. Any tributes need their approval and blessing. We’ll speak with Hearts about any tribute for the derby.”
BUTCHER AND LOCKE REVEAL SHOCK AT LOSS OF TWO SHINING LIGHTS
HIBS manager Terry Butcher and his Hearts counterpart, Gary Locke, have spoken of their shock and sorrow at the double tragedy which has hit both clubs.
Butcher said the club had been left reeling following the death of its under-20 player David Paul.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, he said: “You can sense the shock at the training ground today. Every single member of the squad, the club, everyone at Easter Road and the training centre, are absolutely devastated.
“It is an utter tragedy, mainly for his family of course but also for his good friends and the football club.
“He had been at Hibs since he was ten years old, he was in the second year as a full-time player and he was much loved by everyone.
“He was a quite unassuming boy who got on with his job, a great professional, a great member of the squad.
“Both clubs in Edinburgh are mourning the loss of good characters as well as good players. It really puts it into perspective.”
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Locke said: “It is tragic. We are all devastated. We think we are having difficult times but for us and Hibs, to lose two young players the way we have done is tragic.
“My thoughts go out to both players’ families because it must be absolutely horrific for them. We just hope both families can get over it at some point.”