A FATHER-of-two has tragically died in a freak accident at his Dudley home.
It is believed Darren Owen, aged 35, fell out of the loft while his family were out and was found by his wife Becky.
The football-mad dad, who managed Stourbridge FC under 11s, was taken to hospital from their house, off Burton Road, on Saturday, but could not be saved.
The world of youth football in the Black Country has been stunned by the untimely death of the BT manager, described as “one of the best, if not the best coach in the league”.
His son Luke, who is thought to have just turned 11, played for the team and the couple of have a younger son, Joe, aged about eight.
Under 11s team administrator, Simon Westwood, said: “All of our thoughts and prayers are with Darren’s family, Becky, Luke and Joe, at this tragic time.
Darren was a great manager but most importantly a great person.”
Under 11s assistant manager Peter Thompson said he had been deluged with messages of sympathy.
He said: “Everyone is in shock – it’s such a tragic loss. There are 15 teams in the league and virtually every manager has been in contact with messages of condolence.”
His son, James, has played with Luke since they were under eights, and when Mr Owen became manager about six months ago, Mr Thompson stepped in to help him.
“Darren was a great coach and a great mentor to the kids. I never heard a bad word said about him.
“I’ve had people coming to me saying he was one of the best, if not the best coach the league has.
“My lad’s come on leaps and bounds under him, as have other kids.”
Mr Thompson had the heartbreaking job of informing the parents of the under 11s the devastating news and Sunday’s match was cancelled as a mark of respect.
He said Mrs Owen had asked for the team’s Christmas party to go ahead this Saturday, but a final decision has yet to be made.
Mr Westwood added: “Darren’s main aim with the team was for our players to enjoy and develop their game, and not all about results on the pitch, but with this philosophy the results mainly took care of themselves. Darren was not in football for self-gain, he was in it foremost for the kids.
“The kids absolutely adored him and many of them have said that he is the best manager they have played under, which is a testament to what a kind a person Darren was.
“The one thing that we do know is that Darren would want his team to carry on and go out and achieve whatever they are capable of, and the players are determined to achieve whatever they can in memory of their great manager.”