Footballer dies on pitch aged just 23 after collapsing during game

Tributes have poured in after Michael Palmer tragically died while playing a football match last Saturday. The 23-year-old footballer was playing for Crowland Town FC against Leverington FC when he suddenly collapsed and lost consciousness. His family paid tribute to the 23-year-old in a statement, saying he would “always find the time to be there for those he loved and cared for.”

His family said the young man, who was from Holbeach, “loved his friends, his family, and his colleagues”, with there being an outpouring of love since his death.

They added: “With a strong sense of duty, Michael wanted the best for those around him, and nothing was too much to ask. 

“He was the very embodiment of valuing people and relationships above everything else. And with fervour and commitment, but with humility and confidence in equal measure, he inspired those around him to work harder, try harder, give a little more, walking alongside them and taking them with him on the journey.”

Mr Palmer was part of the reserve side playing against Leverington in the Peterborough & District Football League when he collapsed.

Speaking about his love of gaming including FIFA and Call of Duty (CoD), his family said: “When playing it was common for those at home to rush to his room thinking that something was wrong, only to discover that he was shouting at the game. 

“If you entered his room at any point, you would find him sitting there with two screens for his Xbox, a screen for his laptop, and his iPad all tuned in to games and live football streams – whilst messaging his friends from his phone.

“Electricity and saving the planet seemed of secondary importance, to football and gaming – especially as he was not paying the bill.”

They added Michael’s “first love” was Football, Crowland FC and Manchester United, as he “avidly” watched how “Manchester United achieved unparalleled and unrivalled success.”

His passion for Manchester United did not fade, his family said, noting that he would often go to games with his friends. 

The statement continued: “It is therefore fitting that Michael’s passing, notwithstanding the pain for those he leaves behind, was on the grassy velvet of the football pitch he so adored.

“For many, Michael will be missed, and his family and friends have a void that can, and will never, be filled. But the memories we hold of him will stand the test of time.

“Michael’s loss will be forever felt, and hurt fades to scars, his light will shine the brightest in our galaxy of stars. And though we will move forward, we should take solace in this pain, that Michael will never be forgotten, and we will all remember his name.

“Our hope from this, yet another tragedy on the football pitch with one so young, is that more is done to identify those at risk earlier, prevent the deaths, and the emotional toil from those there when it happens and the aftermath.”

The cause of his death has not been revealed.


Michael’s teammates and football clubs joined the family in paying tribute to the “loving and caring” 23-year-old. 

His best friend, Harry Grigas, described Michael as one of the “funniest and kindest people in the world” who would “always go above and beyond to make people close to him happy”.

Clubs from across the country paid tribute to the player following the news of his death.

In a statement, Crowland Town FC said: “We are sad to say Michael will leave a massive hole in our hearts. He was a genuine lovely lad who never gave us a moments trouble.

“He was liked by everyone and will never be forgotten. Nothing was ever too much trouble and he always had a big smile on his face.”

The family said their hope now is that more can be done to prevent young football players from dying.

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