TRIBUTES have been paid to a promising young footballer after he lost a year-long battle with cancer.

Euxton Villa forward Eddie Gregory was diagnosed in March last year – but despite proton beam therapy in the USA medics were unable to save him

Doctors found a tumour in his brain and sent him for chemotherapy at The Christie Hospital in Manchester. He later underwent treatment in America.

He returned to The Christie for further treatment but died on March 15, aged 17.

John Sullivan, assistant manager during Eddie’s spell at Villa, said: “He loved his football, whether it was playing for Euxton Villa, coaching his Lostock Hall Juniors U10s football team with his dad or following Bolton Wanderers home and away.

“More importantly, Eddie was a great lad, polite to parents and respected by his team-mates and friends.

“A centre forward, a goal-scorer and a ferocious competitor on the pitch but win, lose or draw, Eddie would always have a smile on his face.

“I will always remember for that smile. My heart goes out to his family.”

Eddie was born in Bolton in January 2002 and his family later moved to Preston.

He started playing football at Penwortham Town aged five, then had spells at Gregson Lane and Cadley where he won the Premier League and the Easter Cup before moving to Euxton Villa. He was a football coach at Lostock Hall Junior FC with his dad, Chris.

He supported Bolton Wanderers and there was a minute’s applause for him in the 17th minute of their game against Wigan on Saturday.

Eddie was a runner-up and highly commended Young Volunteer of the Year 2018 at the South Ribble Sports Awards.

He was also a referee in the Mid-Lancashire and Central Lancashire Football Leagues.

Balloons will be released for Eddie on Saturday before the Bamber Bridge home game.

His family said he would be missed and loved forever.

They added: "He was a selfless, caring brave and funny young man who we are immensely proud of."

Jon Bibby, a former Euxton Villa coach said: “When I coached him he was a terrific forward player - a real asset to Euxton - skilful, strong and great team player full of personality and spirit.

“He loved his football and Bolton Wanderers and I really enjoyed coaching him as he was a proper football player - talented and brave.”

Kev Kealey of the Mid Lancashire Football League, said: “We are saddened at the news of Eddie losing his brave battle with cancer.

“Eddie was a valued and well-thought off member of our young referees.

“He will be sadly missed and our sincere thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”