STUART HUSSEY and Danny Bowers have joined the tributes to Sholing’s inspirational first-team head coach Darren Burdle who tragically passed away last night.

Darren, 50-year-old father of three, collapsed and died while out watching football at the Shamblehurst Barn in Hedge End.

His bubby personality will be missed throughout the local non-League community, not least at Folland Sports where former manager Bowers remembers him as a kind, lovely person and an excellent coach.

Bowers said: “It’s devastating news. I can’t believe it.

“Richard Gregory (former Follands player) was with Darren when he died. They’d gone out to watch the game and Darren collapsed in his arms. Richard called me in the early hours to tell me.

“Loads of people have texted me. Darren was an amazing person, a true gentleman and one of the kindest, nicest people you could meet.

“He was the inspiration that made you want to carry on. He was so energetic and brought such great professionalism to Follands. His coaching was first class.

“He got on with everyone and would find time for everyone. Darren was such a lovely man.

“I’m devastated for his whole family.”

Former Winchester City and Lymington Town boss Stuart Hussey counted Darren as one of his closest friends and knew him through football, work and family.

He said: “My thoughts go to his three children and his mum, Pat.

“I first met Darren when he went out with my sister and we’ve been near best mates ever since.

“He recently set up his own cleaning business and he’d done some work for me, my brother Matt and my dad.

“If I said I spoke to him every day and saw him four or five times a week, it would be no exaggeration.

“Football-wise, he was with Matt and me at Follands, Hamble Club, Winchester and Lymington and we were together at Sholing for 18 months.

“We all went to Las Vegas this year for his 50th and my brother’s 40th.

"Darren hadn't travelled that much, but recently he'd been to Tenerife, Las Vegas and New York, so he'd really lived a life this year.

“No one’s got a bad word to say about Darren. He put such hard work and effort into Sholing and local clubs were forever tapping him up to join them.

“He lived a road up from me in Sholing. It’s a big loss when someone you saw and spoke to so often is suddenly out of your life.”