FRIENDS of a former Hampshire soldier are asked to go to his funeral in Southampton football shirts to pay their respects.

The family of Iraq war veteran Mitchell Wickenden, pictured as an 18- year-old soldier, want friends to go to Southampton Crematorium next Tuesday wearing Saints shirts.

Anyone with army connections is asked to attend the service in uniform in honour of the former private who served with the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Regiment.

The funeral will be held at the Bassett Green Road crematorium at 4.15pm with a wake at the Saints Pub in Kendall Avenue, Millbrook, afterwards from 5pm.

An avid Saints fan, Mitchell was 25 when his body was found last week at his home in Witts Hill, Midanbury.

His sister Sadie described him as a popular “cheeky chappy”

with a heart of gold.

Mitchell was 18 when he was sent on a six-month tour of duty in Iraq in 2006 and later discharged from the Army on medical grounds.

Paying tribute to her son, his mum Marie said: “I am never going to be able to come to terms with the loss of my beautiful boy. I am so proud of him and I am going to miss him.”

His older brother Leroy and sisters Kim and Lisa added that they would always miss their little brother who had a “massive heart” and would do anything for anyone.