HE was a talented sportsman loved by all for his kindness and sweet nature.

Last night the grieving family of Eddie Pearse paid tribute to the Hampshire teenager as they struggle to come to terms with his tragic death.

Eddie, a Saints fan, was killed when he was struck by a freight train at Winchester railway station on Friday – aged just 18.

His devastated family are preparing to celebrate his life at a service at Winchester Cathedral next week at a date to be confirmed.

The former Westgate School and Peter Symonds College student from Western Road was a keen footballer and played for Littelton Leopards junior team up until he was 16.

He left college after completing his AS Levels last September to begin an apprenticeship in business administration at Age Concern Hampshire in St Cross Road.

He regularly played snooker at The Winchester Club and was a fan of bands The Killers and U2.

Father Jeremy, 58, a former Daily Echo and Meridian journalist, now a freelance producer at Sky Sports, said the family is “shocked” and saddened”.

“I saw him that morning and he was fine and his normal self,” he said. “Now this – it’s devastating.

“Eddie was a lovely boy and everyone who met him really loved him.

“He was honest, kind and really down to earth and looked up to his brothers and sisters.

“He loved his football, cycling, golf and squash and just the day before he died we were playing snooker.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the messages of support and it just goes to show how many people loved him.

“He only lived for 18 years but he fitted a lot in.”

His older brother Nick, 31, from Badger Farm, said: “Eddie was my brother and my friend. He was sweet natured and never had a bad word to say about anyone. You couldn’t wish to meet a nicer young lad and we miss him very much.”

Peter Symonds principal Stephen Carville said: “We are shocked and distressed at the news of Eddie's untimely death.

“His teachers and fellow students are deeply saddened by what has happened and his family are very much in our thoughts at this sad time.”

Eddie leaves his mother Caroline, 53, another brother Alex, 24, his sister Hannah 28 and two young nieces.