The parents of former Manchester City youngster Jeremy Wisten have paid tribute to their “friendly, always smiling” son after he tragically died at the age of 18.
The teenager was found unresponsive at the family home in Wythenshawe on Saturday, with medics unable to revive him.
Wisten, who was born in Malawi, had been on the books at City until May last year, with the club and several first-team and youth players paying their tributes to him over the weekend.
Father Manila and mother Grace said Wisten was an extremely popular young footballer who had hoped to forge a career in the game.
“We are very saddened and shocked by our son’s death,” the family told the Manchester Evening News.
“We love him and always will love him.
“He was a very happy boy who was taken away too soon.
“He was very friendly and always smiling.
“He loved football and was aiming for a career in the game.
“He was very popular at Manchester City, at school and with his friends.
“Not just here but also in his homeland in Malawi.”
Wisten also played for Altrincham and De La Salle FC before joining City in 2016.
He had been progressing well at the club’s Elite Development Squad before picking up a knee injury.
“During the last year at Manchester City he was injured and spent a long time without playing” said his father.
“He did recover but then had not played enough football the year prior to be considered for the next level. Of course it was very frustrating for him.
“He went for trials elsewhere but because he hadn’t played much football it proved very difficult.
“We helped him look after himself and encouraged him to take up other sports to keep himself fit, until he left us.
“He enjoyed his time at Manchester City very much.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity they gave our son.
“In particular his first head coach Mark Burton, he was an amazing coach and they won three national championships for their age when he was manager.
“But we would also like to thank all the staff at Manchester City.”
Manila and Grace are awaiting a cause of death report from the coroner, and say that they were unaware that their son was suffering from any mental health issues.
They have now called for greater action from football clubs to help both young players and parents.
“I think that football clubs and schools need to pay careful attention to the mental health of their boys and girls” said Manila.
“I also think boys or girls whose contracts come to an end or are released by all clubs need some care beyond that time.
“I think there is often a focus on this at the professional level in sport but maybe not so much at the lower level.
“Furthermore, it would be good if mental health education was extended to parents. I think this would help cases like that of our son.
“We want to prevent a family going through the same experience as us.”