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Tributes paid after much loved non league star dies aged 36

Tributes have been paid after much loved non league star Leon Taylor dies aged 36 with a donation page since set up to help his family.

Last week, his club Darlaston Town announced the heartbreaking news of the death of their player, after being taken ill on Wednesday and learned of his passing later that night.

A statement was released on their website on Thursday, making it aware to their followers as well as many that knew him well.

“Darlaston last night were totally devastated to learn of the passing of our beautiful and great friend, and player Leon Taylor,” it read.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Leon’s family and friends at this most difficult of times.”

Dean Gill, who managed Taylor at Darlaston, said on behalf of the club: “Our love and support are with Leon’s family, friends, and team-mates.

“In due course, as a club, we will pay our respects to Leon in the way he deserves.

“Leon had a partner and two beautiful children, and they are understandably our number one concern at this time.

“As a club we are united in our love for Leon and devastation at his passing. “We ask that everyone is given time to deal with this accordingly.”

Darlaston Town teammate Ash Evans wrote: “RIP Leon Taylor will remember the best times with darlo achieving promotion together, rest easy my brother sleep tight.”

Taylor played for a number of West Midlands teams, including the likes of Sporting Khalsa, AFC Wulfrunians, Brocton, Wednesfield, Bloxwich United, Tividale and Walsall Wood.

Current Walsall Wood boss Harry Harris, who played with Taylor for four years, said: “I spoke to him every day – he was one of my best mates.

“He was just a great lad – I had so many good times with him. No-one ever had anything bad to say about him and he wouldn’t ever say anything bad about anyone else.

“From the first time I joined Walsall Wood I knew we were going to be good mates forever.”

Darlaston’s match with Shawbury United on Saturday was postponed in respect.

Thousands of pounds have since been raised in memory of Leon Taylor, and as of Monday morning, more than £13,800 had been donated.

Dean Gill stated that he wasn’t surprised at the amount which had been raised within 24 hours.

He said: “No, the answer is no [not surprised with how much has been raised] because I knew what Leon was to the football world. There was always the trust and belief in me, I guess, that the football family would come together when it needs to and I’m absolutely ecstatic and made up [with the amount raised].

“He was a complete football fanatic and he was fundamentally a people person. He was a shy man but a very very popular guy in football which is 100 per cent demonstrated by the donations and the kind words as well and they’re all true.

“There’s not a bad word that’s been said about him and there’s millions of words being written about him, they are all true and it really is heartbreaking.”

The fundraising effort is being led by Darlaston Town 1874 with people still encouraged to donate to help Taylor’s family in the short-term with living costs and provide them with some financial stability.

The description on the GoFundMe page said: “Following Wednesday night’s tragic events where we lost our great friend and player Leon Taylor, we are asking the football and wider world to come together with ourselves to support Leon’s partner Kelly and his 2 beautiful children Tia-Nicole and Theo.

“The money will go directly to Kelly to support the family in the coming months however she requires. The love shown to Leon has been remarkable over the last 48 hours and we thank everyone for their love and support to Leon and the family and thank you in advance for your kind donation however big or small.”

The footballer was most recently at Darlaston Town 1874 and also counted Sporting Khalsa, AFC Wulfrunians, Brocton, Wednesfield, Bilston Town, Bloxwich United, Tividale and Walsall Wood among his former clubs.

One club, Dudley Town, described him as a “fantastic character, player and man” whilst Walsall Wood described him as a “top bloke who was loved by everyone at the Wood”.

AFC Wulfrunians added: “We are extremely saddened to hear the news that one of our former players, Leon Taylor, has passed away.

“He only made a couple of appearances for us but played against us on many occasions and was a great lad. Our thoughts are with family and friends at this sad time. RIP Leon.”

You can donate to the fundraiser by visiting gofundme.com/f/darlaston-town-1874-fc-in-memory-of-leon-taylor

As mentioned, tributes have been paid after the much loved non league star dies aged 36…

@indiechick79: Leon was skipper, he was the joker and he was the inspiration to little kids watching on from the side lines that they too could score goals when they were bigger. He would often miss the easier attempts and bag the worldies. A real gent of a man! Will be missed for sure!

@ChloboMatthews: Sad news, thoughts are with his family, friends and everyone at the club. Always a class act whenever I’ve refereed at Darlaston! Rest In Peace Leon

@scoyne2886: Heartbroken, Leon was the one person I knew I’d speak to everyday, talking about how we’re getting on with football manager, how we both were, talking non league gossip etc. Leon was a great man and proud to call him one of my good friends, love and miss you Leon 💔

@Mrferguson420: I used to work Leon in my first ever job. We had a couple blinding work nights out. A funny, funny bloke. Sad to hear. RIP Leon. Rest easy man.

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