THE man who has been the voice of St Mary’s stadium for nearly two decades has died.

Tributes have been paid to Justin Gladdis following the announcement of his sudden death.

The 47-year-old passed away at his home in Dorset on Friday according to Wessex FM, a radio station for which Mr Gladdis worked as a journalist and newsreader.

Mr Gladdis was also the PA announcer at St Mary’s, a role he had held for 18 consecutive seasons.

News of his death comes just weeks after he confirmed on social media that he would be the stadium’s announcer for the 2019-20 season.

Paying tribute to Mr Gladdis on Twitter, the club said: “It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of our long-time PA announcer, Justin Gladdis.

“The sympathies of all of us at Saints go out to his family and friends.

“Rest in peace, Justin.”

The tweet prompted tributes from ex-Saints and England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who offered his condolences to Mr Gladdis’ family.

Former athlete Iwan Thomas, who lives in Southampton and is an ambassador for the Saints Foundation, paid tribute to Mr Gladdis.

He said: “Such sad news, rest in peace.”

Kenzie Benali, the daughter of Saints legend Francis Benali, also paid tribute on Twitter.

She said: “Justin was always so kind, funny and a true Saint through and through.

“I always thoroughly enjoyed working alongside him.

“May you rest in peace.”

Tributes were also paid by Mr Gladdis’ colleagues at Wessex FM, where he had worked for four years.

Wessex FM Managing Director Rick Simmonds said: “Justin was one of the most warm-hearted, loyal and often amusing colleagues anyone could hope to work alongside.

“As a journalist, he broke hundreds of important news stories for Dorset and as a person, had a wealth of friends both within and beyond the building who will miss him terribly.

“He has left an indelible mark on all of our lives here – and our hearts go out to his family and friends.”

Head of News Maria Greenwood added: “He was a real character who made us all laugh.

“He will be deeply missed.”