July 30 2014 Latest news:
Lorraine King, Digital news editor
Thursday, June 26, 2014
A church service to remember a young footballer from Willesden who died while on holiday in Spain last week will take place today.
Alex Stephens, 21, a player for AFC Wembley, died from a fall in Barcelona – two months after the death of the club’s co-founder Trevor Hutton.
Mr Stephens, who lived in Hawthorn Road, also worked part-time in Marks & Spencer in Kilburn and was studying plumbing at the College of North West London in Willesden.
His family flew out to Spain and arranged his cremation there this week.
Andrew and Faye Stephens, his heartbroken parents, told the Times: “Life will never be the same for any of us again.
“Alex was a quiet, humble young man with a heart as big as the universe, who never had a bad word to say.
“He was his dad’s best friend and his mum’s baby boy and he will be so deeply missed as our whole world revolved around him. We are so saddened by this.
“Alex is now an angel who shines as the brightest star in the sky.”
Before Mr Stephens, who has two older sisters Ashley and Charly, joined AFC Wembley he had played for youth clubs in the borough.
He signed for Watford and went on to play as a left-back at Norwich City academy from 2009 to 2011.
His sudden death has shocked the grassroots football community including Tajean Hutton, son of Trevor, who died from coronary heart disease on April 30 at the age of 52.
He said: “I am really shocked about Alex’s death. He was a quiet and humble man and will be sorely missed.”
Michael Edghill, manager of AFC Wembley’s first team, had persuaded Alex to join the club while giving him driving lessons.
Paying tribute to “one of the team’s better players”, he said: “We are all upset with the news about Alex’s death. He was popular and helped the team to progress as he was one of our better players.
“This is very sad and he will be greatly missed.”
Chris Ampofo, the chair of Brent Schools’ Football Association, told the Times: “This is devastating news. Alex was a lovely lad and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Shocked friends of Mr Stephens, a former pupil at Burlington Danes School in White City, and football fans have left tributes to him on social networking sites.
On the official Norwich City FC Facebook page Richard Waugh said: “What a tragedy, bad enough any death in a family but for someone with their whole life ahead of them.... My thoughts are with his family and friends, RIP”.
Pearl Day added: “RIP Alex, gone to soon. You had a great time at the academy and will always be remembered for your smile, achievements and politeness: a great lad xx”
Ricky Martin, from Norwich City academy, said on behalf of the football club: “He was a bubbly and easy-going lad, very well-liked by his team-mates and staff during his time with us.
“Our thoughts are very much with Alex’s family and friends at this time.”
The service will be held at St Andrews Church in Willesden High Road, Willesden, at 11am.
Following the service his life will be celebrated at the Learie Constantine Centre in Dudden Hill Lane, Willesden, from 2pm.
His parents have requested that no flowers are brought to the service instead everyone should bring a balloon with a message on it for Mr Stephens.
The balloons will be released after the service.