Sheffield Wednesday tribute ‘would mean everything’ to devastated family

Tom Bothamley with Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood
Tom Bothamley with Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood
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The family of a football-mad Sheffield Wednesday fan who has died aged just 13 hope Owls supporters will participate in a special tribute to him.

Talented footballer Thomas Bothamley, who suffered from a heart condition, died on Friday night - the third member of his family to lose his life in tragic circumstances.

His father Ryan was also killed by sudden adult death syndrome in 2002, while Thomas’ brother Joshua died aged just 23 months on Christmas Day in 2007.

Tom’s family now hope that Owls fans will take part in a minute’s applause in his memory at next week’s friendly against Benfica - a game the teenager, from Wickersley in Rotherham, had been due to attend.

His uncle Lewis Carder said: “It would mean so much to us.”

Almost £7,000 has been raised in memory of Tom following his sudden death at the weekend.

Floral tributes and messages left on a playground in Wickersley following the sudden death of teenager Thomas Bothamley who went to Wickersley Comprehensive

Floral tributes and messages left on a playground in Wickersley following the sudden death of teenager Thomas Bothamley who went to Wickersley Comprehensive

A charity fund to support the family of Thomas Bothamley, aged 13 and from Wickersley, Rotherham, has collected thousands following his sudden death on Friday.

Wickersley School, which Tom attended, is also holding a charity football match today between his friends and teachers to raise money for the Sudden Adult Death Trust.

His uncle Lewis Carder said: “He was loved by everyone. Every year of the school is just devastated.”

Tom’s family hope the Sheffield Wednesday season ticket holder, who sat in the South Stand with his granddad, will be remembered at the Owls’ pre-season game at Benfica next week with a round of applause in the 13th minute.

Ryan and Tom Bothamley

Ryan and Tom Bothamley

Tom suffered from a heart condition and had two mild heart attacks over recent years but had recovered and was a talented footballer, who played for Wickersley Youth’s U14s team.

His father, Ryan Bothamley, who was a Sheffield Wednesday academy player, died from sudden adult death syndrome in 2002 when he was 15 years old.

Ryan died before his partner, Keira Hayden, found out she was pregnant with Thomas.

Tom was also a promising footballer and had trials with Wednesday and Manchester United when he was seven, but broke his leg on his bike and couldn’t play football for a year.

Keira Hayden with Joshua Donnelly

Keira Hayden with Joshua Donnelly

Lewis said Tom, who played as a striker, had training with Rotherham United last year and was hoping he could become a professional when he was older.

“He just loved football - that was his life,” he said.

Tom’s death is the third tragedy to have hit his mother Keira, who lost her 23-month-old son Joshua Donnelly, on Christmas Day 2007.

The toddler, Tom’s brother, was born with his bowel not properly formed and underwent a string of operations before he died.

Friends of Tom have left Sheffield Wednesday shirts, floral tribute and personal messages at a Wickersley playground.

Lewis said Thomas’ birth had been a ‘blessing’ to his family following the death of the teenager’s father at such a young age.

Floral tributes and messages left on a playground in Wickersley following the sudden death of teenager Thomas Bothamley who went to Wickersley Comprehensive

Floral tributes and messages left on a playground in Wickersley following the sudden death of teenager Thomas Bothamley who went to Wickersley Comprehensive

“Words cannot describe how much pain our family is going through but all we want is him to be remembered how he was,” he said.

Lewis said Tom had met Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood just weeks ago at the airport as he went to Dublin for a school football tournament and Westwood was on international duty for Ireland.

A spokesman for Wickersley School said: “Wickersley School is devastated by the news of Tom’s tragic death.

“He was a popular member of the school community and football team and he will be very much missed by classmates and staff.

“Our thoughts are with Tom’s mum and family at this terrible time.”

Len Curtis, chairman of Wickersley Youth JFC, said: “It is with profound sadness that our outstanding U14 player, Tom Bothamley has suddenly passed away.

“Tom joined our club as a seven year old in 2011 and was one of the outstanding players, not only in our club but also one of the finest players in Sheffield Junior League.

“I was very lucky to have coached him and watched him develop into a fantastic footballer. He was adored by his team mates and his tragic loss is hard to describe for his family and friends.

“To watch him shine in our tournament and to know he’ll not wear our jersey again or see his big smile again is something none of us will ever understand.

“He was great fun, caring, warm, mischievous and such a big personality in every way.

“Words cannot describe how much he’ll be missed. We send our sincerest condolences to his wonderful family.”

Floral tributes and messages left on a playground in Wickersley following the sudden death of teenager Thomas Bothamley who went to Wickersley Comprehensive

Floral tributes and messages left on a playground in Wickersley following the sudden death of teenager Thomas Bothamley who went to Wickersley Comprehensive

Floral tributes and messages left on a playground in Wickersley following the sudden death of teenager Thomas Bothamley who went to Wickersley Comprehensive

Floral tributes and messages left on a playground in Wickersley following the sudden death of teenager Thomas Bothamley who went to Wickersley Comprehensive