doc

TRIBUTES have been paid to a “much loved and highly respected” football player who died suddenly this week.

Christopher Barnett, a player for Abertillery Excelsiors, died on Monday, September 11 after collapsing on Saturday afternoon whilst playing football.

A memorial fund for the 44-year-old has raised £2,285 since it was created yesterday.

In the page, it says: “This past weekend, we lost a true character and friend of Abertillery Excelsiors in Christopher Barnett, who tragically passed away on Monday.

“Barney was widely known in the community and within the football family, he was much loved and highly respected by his peers. He leaves behind wife Lesley and his son, Aaron.”

In the page, it also says the club has received messages of love and support from football clubs and individuals all over South Wales.

“It has been nothing short of awe-inspiring and fantastic to see the wider football family pull together, something that we are hugely appreciative of,” it continues.

Abertillery Excelsiors’ Facebook page announced the player’s death with “overwhelming sadness”, saying Mr Barnett’s death is a “tragic void we will never be able to fill”.

The page also announced that none of the club’s senior teams will be playing football this weekend out of respect for “Barney”.

“We feel this is a fitting and appropriate tribute to start the healing process for his family and friends, many of which he enjoyed spending time with on the pitch and at the club,” it adds.

“We would invite any and all comers to join us at the New Bridgend Inn on Saturday from 4pm to celebrate his life and recount the many heart warming and hilarious stories we all have for a true character of the club.

“We were better for having him in our lives.”

Gwent County Football Association have also paid tributes to the dad-of-one.

"The club are totally devastated at the loss of this popular player and did all they could at the game on Saturday to save him," it says in a statement on their website. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Christopher at this sad time.

"I request all clubs to observe a minutes silence at games this weekend as a mark of respect for Christopher and the family he has left behind."

To donate to the fund, visit gofundme.com/chris-barnett-memorial-fund

Tributes have come in from other football clubs in Gwent and beyond: