Football clubs pay emotional tributes to tragic former player and 'gentle giant' James Dean

Emotional tributes have been paid to popular footballer James Dean from two of the local clubs he represented.
James Dean representing Padiham Football ClubJames Dean representing Padiham Football Club
James Dean representing Padiham Football Club

Police confirmed on Monday that a body found on Sunday was that of 35-year-old dad James, who had been missing from the Oswaldtwistle area since Wednesday.

Talented footballer James was a familiar face across the county having played football for a number of Lancashire sides including Padiham, Clitheroe, Chorley and Fylde.

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A statement from Padiham Football Club said: "Words cannot describe how we feel with today’s devastating news regarding James Dean Thoughts are with his family and friends at this very sad time. RIP Deano."

And Clitheroe FC manager Carl Garner also made an emotional, very personal tribute to his former player.

He said: "It was completely out of the blue. I didn't realise how many clubs he ended up playing for until seeing all the tributes. It's astonishing. He won double promotions with Halifax Town and Chorley, which is quite unique.

"I signed him from Great Harwood Rovers and then sold him to Northwich Victoria, who were a very strong Conference outfit at the time, for £3,000.

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"He came to us as a midfielder, he told me that was his favoured position, and I replied 'not anymore!' It quickly became evident to us that he had all the tools to become a centre forward, and so it proved. He quickly started scoring goals under Chris Stammers and he added so much physicality. He had a fabulous career as a centre forward.

"He had all the attributes to be successful, he just scored goals regularly.

"Steve Burr, manager at NV said he was well thought of across the game, as you can see from all the tributes. So many people got behind the campaign to help with the search for him and it's just heart-breaking with the way it's ended.

"He's going to be sorely missed. He was a family friend and my son, Simon, played alongside him at Halifax Town. He played alongside Jamie Vardy and they were unplayable. He was pivotal in their success, he was the first name on the team sheet and kept out the likes of Scott Hogan and Lee Gregory.

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"He was part of a golden period for Halifax. It was amazing and non-league football will probably never see anything like that again. They blew the league away; nobody could get near them.

"I can't speak highly enough of him. He was a great trainer with a great attitude and he looked after his body superbly. It's just a massive loss and I don't think he will ever be forgotten.

"I remember him coming in for his first training session. He came in and set off like a house on fire. He came into a strong group at Clitheroe and helped us record our best ever run in the FA Trophy.

"He made an impression as soon as he arrived. He scored goals straight away so the fans took to him immediately. He was pleasant around the place, he would always have a bit of fun, he was an all-round good guy. He was a joy to have at the club.

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"He was a gentle giant. He was a gentleman. He never gave anybody any problems but he would quickly put any trouble to bed if anything flared up during games. I've got nothing but good memories of him.

"He took part in our 'Festival of Football' when playing against us for Rimington. He came in, we shook hands, he gave me a big hug and introduced me to his son. That was just three weeks ago. He was praising all the changes at the club, all the work we had put in, he seemed as good as gold. It was great to see him."

Warrington Town, another of James' former clubs, has set up a JustGiving page which can be found at

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