'Much loved' - Tributes pour in for 'gifted' young West Lothian footballer who died at weekend

Tributes have been paid to a "much loved" promising young footballer from West Lothian who died suddenly at the weekend.

Talented young footballer Matthew Rickis had won a scholarship to the US. Pic: Five Star Football Events/Facebook
Talented young footballer Matthew Rickis had won a scholarship to the US. Pic: Five Star Football Events/Facebook

Matthew Rickis, from Armadale, was described by one club coach as a "gifted and talented midfield player" and a "lovely young man."

The talented young Hibs fan, known as Matty, played for Broxburn Athletic Colts Football Club at under-19s level.

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A statement on the club's website said: "Everyone at the club is devastated to hear the news late Saturday night of the passing of U19 player Matthew Rickis.

"Matthew had a positive impact on and off the football field. Matthew was a much-loved person and we will all miss him dearly. Our thoughts are with Matthew’s family and friends.

"Rest in Peace."

The statement added that opening up and talking about mental health is one of the hardest things to do and that the club wants to actively encourage anyone who wants to talk or who is concerned about themselves or others to not suffer in silence.

Matthew was accepted to start a prestigious football scholarship in the US in August.

Football talent scout agency, Five Star Football, Events made the announcement on social media last summer.

A statement on the Bellshill-based organisation's Facebook page in June 2019 said they were “delighted” to have Matthew in team USA and looked forward to seeing him develop and progress.

On the Broxburn Athletic Colts Facebook page, one coach described Matthew as a "gifted and skillful" midfield player and, aside from his talents, a "lovely young man and a pleasure to coach and know."

‘One in a million’

In the wake of Matthew's passing, dozens of friends took to social media to pay tribute.

One wrote: "Lost my bestest friend yesterday and I don't think I'll ever get my head round it.

"You were truly one in a million and I will never forget you babes x

"Love and miss you so much Matthew Rickis."

Another person wrote: "You always lit up a room with how kind you were.

"I wish you knew how much you were truly loved.You will forever hold a special place in my heart, Matty."

Another wrote: "We were together for a short time. In that time you made an impact. You were pleasant, fun, thoughtful, kind, a joy to work with and a friend to many. RIP Matty, my wee Hibby pal.”

A fourth person said: “Heartbreaking. Thinking of all Matthew’s family & friends. Rest in peace.”

A fifth said: “Couldn’t meet a nicer laddie. RIP Matty, you will be sadly missed.”

Another wrote: “Heartbreaking. Such a lovely lad and family. RIP Matty.”

You can contact the Samaritans 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 116 123 or by visiting their website here.