Mansfield Town on Friday announced the shock death of its 18-year-old star striker and youth team captain Ryan Evans. Evans, who was the captain of the club's Under 18 performance side, died at his home in Swadlincote, according to reports. The cause of his death has not yet been confirmed.
Since the announcement of his death, tributes have been pouring in for the young star, with the club describing him as a "fantastic leader" who was "always willing to learn."
According to Mansfield, Evans had recently accepted a place in the Under 21 squad ahead of next season.
Evans' youth coach, Jamie McGuire, while talking to the club's official website, said: "We are all desperately sorry to learn of this news and our thoughts and prayers are sent to Ryan's family at this sad time. As a player, Ryan was a fantastic leader, always willing to learn and had a never-ending enthusiasm to do the best he could. It was for these reasons, amongst others, that I made him my captain last season. We'll remember him as a smiling young man, with a great energy and charm," McGuire added.
Mansfield’s CEO Carolyn Radford also released a statement, saying: "We are deeply saddened to learn of Ryan’s passing; a young and talented footballer who was looking forward to U21s football with us next season. To lose someone so young is heartbreaking for Ryan’s family and as a club we will support them in every way we can. Our heartfelt thoughts are with Ryan’s loved ones, whilst we will remember Ryan and his family in our prayers," Radford said.
Reports state that the striker's body was found by family members at home on Thursday, May 24.
Evans' childhood friend, Dante Edwards, in a moving tribute, posted a series of messages after the news of the striker's death was announced. "24/05/2018, this is the date you left a massive hole in my heart Ryan, I knew this world was a cruel place to be in but I didn't think it could be as bad as this, in losing you I feel I haven't only lost a best friend but I've lost a brother. The saddest day of my life. Some of the best moments of my life have been spent with you in them, you've always been there for me and the boys and I'll never ever forget that, you brought nothing but happiness, laughter, and good vibes into our lives," Edwards wrote.
Evans represented Quorn AFC and the club's Chairman Stuart Taylor released a statement saying that Evan's death will be investigated. However, it is believed that there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
"We are waiting for an investigation to conclude but I've been in touch with his family and am told he died in his sleep while at home. Whether it's an undetected heart problem or not, we're not sure, and will have to wait for more information,' Taylor told the Leicester Mercury," Taylor said.