Tributes after two young Edinburgh footballers die

Hibs player David Paul was found dead this morning. Just hours later, Jamie Skinner, below, died while playing for Tynecastle FC
Hibs player David Paul was found dead this morning. Just hours later, Jamie Skinner, below, died while playing for Tynecastle FC
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TRIBUTES have been paid to two teenage football stars who have died in separate tragedies on the same day.

Thirteen-year-old Jamie Skinner collapsed on the pitch as he made his debut for Tynecastle FC yesterday, just a week after being released by Hearts.

And talented Hibs teenager, 18-year-old David Paul, who played for the club’s Under-20s side, was discovered dead in his bed by his parents just hours after attending a party with his teammates.

Family watches as player dies

TRIBUTES have flooded in from the football world after a 13-year-old playing his first game for a new team collapsed and died as his devastated father and brother watched from the touchline.

Tragic Jamie Skinner was making his debut as a trialist with Tynecastle FC under-14s yesterday morning after being released by Hearts last week.

Five minutes into the second half of a match against Spartans, which kicked off at 11am, the teenager was standing by himself when he collapsed backwards moments after heading the ball out of play.

Coaches and spectators, including two nurses, rushed on to the field to give him first aid before an ambulance arrived and drove straight on to the Astroturf pitch at Saughton.

Paramedics gave the youngster, who was a pupil at Liberton High School, CPR and rushed him to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary but he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Friends and professional players, including Hearts stars Kevin McHattie and Mark Ridgers, paid their respects to the youngster, who “died playing the game he loved”.

A postmortem is now set to be carried out in a bid to establish the cause of death.

Simon Kinghorn, vice-chairman of Tynecastle FC, said Jamie had the potential to carve a career out of the game.

He said: “Jamie had been released by Hearts after a few years with them and was playing his first game for us.

“He was a promising footballer and we were glad to have such a talent playing for us.

“It was around 11.50am and Jamie had just headed the ball out of play.

“He was standing by himself waiting for the thrown in. I’m told by people who were at the game that he just went rigid then fell backwards.

“The referee was the first person to attend to him, and he was joined on the pitch by coaching staff and two nurses who were in the crowd and realised the gravity of the

situation.

The nurses gave him CPR and paramedics took over when the ambulance arrived.

“It seems likely it was a medical condition which has caused this, but we won’t know until the postmortem.

“His father and brother were at the game. It must have been terrible to see but they may take some comfort from knowing that everything was done to try and save Jamie.”

As a mark of respect, all Tynecastle teams will hold a minute’s silence before their next game in honour of Jamie.

Mr Kinghorn insisted the club would do everything to stand by the family as they tried to come to terms with the teenager’s death.

He said: “It’s a complete tragedy and has come at the time of year when families are gathering together. The family of this young man are totally devastated.

“Although he played only one game for us, he’s part of the Tynecastle family and the club will do everything it can to support his family at this time.”

A Hearts spokesman said: “Jamie was a popular boy and a bubbly character and everyone at the football club is deeply shocked by this tragic event. Our thoughts and condolences go to his family at this extremely sad time.”

The Heart of Midlothian Youth Development Committee also expressed sadness at Jamie’s death.

In a statement, it said: “It is with deep sadness that we note the tragic news of Jamie’s untimely death while playing football for Tynecastle FC under-14s this morning.

“Jamie was a talented and athletic young footballer who was a member of Hearts under-14s squad for the first half of this season.

“Our thoughts are with Jamie’s family and friends at this sad time.”

On Twitter, friends and football stars both paid tribute to the teenager in the hours after his death.

Friend and former team-mate Ryan Day wrote: “Jamie it was a pleasure playing with you man!

“You were a great player! Will never forget you.”

Russell Cairns said: “RIP to one of my best friends. He’s a true friend and will never be forgotten. Loved by everyone, thoughts go out to his family. This is hard to take in, and to see it with my own eyes I’m speechless. It was a pleasure to play alongside him at Hearts. He was a legend. Rest In Peace my friend.”

Hearts defender Kevin McHattie tweeted: “Thoughts are with family and friends of young Jamie Skinner. RIP.”

Club goalkeeper Mark Ridgers wrote: “So sad to hear about wee Jamie Skinner. Thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Former Hibs player Fraser Ogilvie said: “Horrible to hear that a 13-year-old boy goes out to play footy and doesn’t come home.

“Thoughts go out to everyone involved at Tynecastle and the family of the wee lad. Can’t imagine how hard this morning was.”

Rangers player Kyle Hutton wrote on Twitter: “Terrible news about the boy Jamie Skinner from Hearts. Thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Birmingham City player and former Rangers star Peter Lovenkrands said: “My thoughts are with the family and friends of Jamie Skinner aged 13 who sadly passed away when playing football.”

Stoke City and Scotland international Charlie Adam wrote: “Thoughts go out to the family of Jamie Skinner who sadly died playing football.”

Aberdeen goalkeeper Jamie Langfield tweeted: “Thoughts and prayers with the parents of Hearts under-14 player Jamie Skinner. Totally devastating news.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a 13-year-old boy who collapsed while playing football has died in hospital.

“An investigation is ongoing and a postmortem will take place to establish a cause of death.”

An spokesman for the ambulance service said: “We received a call to attend at Saughton football pitch to a male who had taken unwell.

“Two crews attended and we transported the patient to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.”

Tragedy can strike any time

FOOTBALLERS at all levels of the game have been tragically struck down while competing on the pitch.

The most prominent recent incident was the cardiac arrest suffered by Fabrice Muamba while he was playing for Bolton against Tottenham in an FA Cup tie in 2010. He collapsed on the pitch as fellow players and fans watched on in horror. His heart stopped for 78 minutes. His life was saved, but he was forced to retire from the sport.

Motherwell player Phil O’Donnell is the highest-profile Scottish footballer to die on the pitch in recent times.

He was 35 years old when he collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest as his team took on Dundee United at Fir Park just after Christmas in 2007.

Heart problems claimed the life of 28-year-old Cameroon international Marc-Vivien Foe, who was representing his country against Columbia in the 2003 Confederations Cup in France.

Danny Yorath, 13-year-old son of former Wales manager Terry Yorath and sister of TV presenter Gabby Logan, died in 1992 while having a kickabout in his garden. He had a heart condition.

Hibs teenage starlet dead in his bed

A TEENAGE Hibs player has died at his family home as a second death rocked the Capital’s footballing community.

David Paul, 18, was found dead at his home in Fairmilehead in the early hours of yesterday morning.

It is the second tragedy to hit the family after his sister, Jennifer, passed away in similar circumstances in 2008 when she was 16.

It is understood that there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the Hibs under-20 player, who had yet to make the breakthrough into the first team at Easter Road.

The youngster was a regular player for the under-20s, who are currently top of the SPL and East of Scotland leagues.

A statement released last night by Hibs read: “It is with great sorrow that Hibernian FC today confirms the sad death of youth player David Paul. David, who could play in midfield or in attack, passed away in the early hours of today at his home in Edinburgh. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding David’s untimely death.

“David’s father, Gordon, said the family were devastated. He thanked all those who have contacted the family to express their condolences and offer support, and asked that his family be allowed privacy to come to terms with their loss.”

Hibs chairman Rod Petrie said: “Everyone at the club is deeply affected by this. David was a talented and promising young footballer, and a fine young man. Our thoughts – and the thoughts of the entire Hibernian community – are with his family at this dreadful and difficult time for them.

“Whilst we understand that people will wish to offer their support, we hope that the wishes of the family for privacy will be respected.”

Mr Paul’s death means his family are grieving over the loss of two siblings after older sister Jennifer died mysteriously in her sleep in 2008. The youngster, a fifth year pupil at George Watson’s College, had gone to bed suffering from a sore head and complaining of feeling sick after being at a 16th birthday party in Braid Avenue.

Described by her headteacher as a pupil who “sparkled” in every class, the keen hockey player was found dead in her bed the following morning. It was understood there had been no drugs or alcohol consumed at the party.

Tributes to Mr Paul have flooded in on social media.

On Twitter, Hibs player Sean Murdoch wrote: “RIP David Paul. My team mate, my friend. Genuinely one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. You will never be forgotten mate.”

He added: “RIP to Hearts youth team player Jamie Skinner. Another travesty. Today rivalries are thrown out the window as we mourn together.”

Mark Snell, a communications executive with the Scottish FA, tweeted: “Sad day for Scottish football. RIP Jamie Skinner of Tynecastle and David Paul of Hibs. Taken far too soon.”

Morton footballer Craig Reid wrote: “Just heard David Paul of Hibs aged just 18 has died as well today. Absolutely heartbreaking news. Thoughts with his family also.”

On the Hibs.net fans’ forum, dozen of tributes were left to the player. One said: “From someone who has seen David grow as a player and as a young man I am so upset. Thoughts are with his family, friends, team mates and coaches. RIP david, the sky has gained another bright star.”

Another message from EdinMike said: “What a truly awful day for the families and friends of both these laddies and Edinburgh football. I hope we acknowledge these young lads with a minutes silence before the derby. It only seems right.”

Police in Edinburgh said that officers were called to the sudden death of an 18-year-old man yesterday morning.

Detective Sergeant John Graham, based at Corstorphine police station, said, “We are treating this an unexplained death, pending the results of a postmortem. However, we have no evidence to suggest there are any suspicious circumstances.”

Managers pay tribute

Hibernian manager Terry Butcher and his Hearts counterpart Gary Locke spoke of their shock and sorrow as both Edinburgh clubs come to terms with the tragic double death.

Butcher revealed the Easter Road club were in a state of “disbelief” while Locke spoke of the devastation felt in the maroon half of the city after the tragic events.

“You can sense the shock at the training ground today,” said the Englishman.

“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.

“Everyone is still trying to come to terms with it.

“You can’t understand why it happens, it is beyond everyone’s comprehension.

“He had been at Hibs since he was 10 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.

“I have three hulking boys, bigger than me, and I just don’t know what would happen if I lost one of them so our thoughts are with his family. It is terrible news for them.

“Both clubs in Edinburgh are mourning the loss of good characters as well as good players, it really puts it into perspective.

“All we do is play a game of football. Period. The things that really matter in life is family and life itself.”

Locke said: “It is tragic. We are all devastated. It puts things into perspective.

“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.

“He (Jamie Skinner) turned up yesterday expecting to play football and he has lost his life so deepest sympathies for both families and everyone at the football club is hurting.

“We just hope both families can get over it at some point.”