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Tributes paid to a popular football manager and ex-professional Gary Pearson after death aged 45

Teesside Live logo Teesside Live 01/07/2022 Sue Kirby
Gary Pearson, who had just been appointed as manager of Billingham Town FC, has died suddenly at the age of 45. © Ryhope CW Football Club Gary Pearson, who had just been appointed as manager of Billingham Town FC, has died suddenly at the age of 45.

Devastated team mates have spoken of their grief following the death of former footballer Gary Pearson who died suddenly of a suspected heart attack aged just 45.

The former Darlington FC player , was well known throughout the North East having played with or managed a number of clubs. He was excited about getting into his new role of manager at Billingham Town FC this season.

Club chairman, Kevin Close, said everyone at the Teesside club is in shock at the news Gary had died at home on Thursday from a suspected heart attack. He said their thoughts are with Gary's family, including his wife and two daughters.

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Kevin said: "He was so fit and healthy, we are just in shock. A couple of weeks ago he had a heart attack while on the pitch and was taken to James Cook Hospital. They put a stent in and he was expected to make a full recovery.

"He was at home, relaxing like he was told to do, for a few weeks. He said he was feeling unwell and collapsed in the house."

Kevin said the ambulance crew arrived within a few minutes, but despite their best efforts Gary passed away. He said: "We are all just devastated. He was one of the best blokes."

Gary, who hailed from Seaham, was only appointed to Billingham Town FC at the end of May and Kevin said both of them were really excited for the future of the club. He said: "I wanted a brilliant manager for Billingham and I got one.

"He had a great vison. He was so enthusiastic and got the very best out of his players. He was one of the lads.

"He would have been the best manager that Billingham Town ever had, its just, unfortunately, we won't get to see him manage a game."

Before joining Billingham, Gary had spent a a long time at Ryhope Colliery Welfare FC, where a tribute said: "It is with most heart felt sadness and devastation to announce that former player and manager, Gary 'Gaz' Pearson has sadly passed away. From all associated at Ryhope CW, we pass our condolences to all the friends and family. RIP Gaz."

After being in the youth ranks at Sheffield United in the 1990s, Gary played most of his football in non-league for the likes of Gateshead, Spennymoor United, Whitby and Durham City before getting a move into the Football League with Darlington in 2001. After leaving Darlington in 2004, he played for York City, Bedlington, Durham City Spennymoor Town and Crook, before becoming a manager.

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