THE family of a keen amateur footballer who died after a battle with cancer has paid loving tribute to him.
Tom Arnold, of Newton Lane, Chester, had played for Dee Rangers FC, based at Upton Recreation Centre, for about five years.
The popular 26-year-old player, described by friends as an avid Chester FC fan, had become the club’s secretary.
But last year the former King’s School pupil, who was due to start work as a lawyer in September, was diagnosed with esophagus cancer and after a year-long struggle with the disease, which had spread to his liver, he died on Wednesday, June 13.
His mother Jane said: “Tom had a tremendous zest for life. He was sporty and loved football and cricket. He was also careful about what he ate. He was the most unlikely person to get this cancer.
“He loved music. He was bright and funny. He was a fantastic brother to his brother Luke and his sister Elise. Their friends were shared friends.”
After leaving school Tom had gone to Leeds University where he studied history. He then decided to convert to law, and began attending Chester Law College.
He had been due to start work for Weightmans Solicitors in Liverpool in September.
“They thought so highly of him they said he could start when he was ready,” said Mrs Arnold.
About a year ago Tom had begun complaining of indigestion. “He had a scan. It was a terrible cancer which had spread to the liver.
“He said I have so much in my life I want to do. He was going to beat it. We thought with him being so young it would become controllable. He came off chemotherapy but then suddenly it all spiralled out of control.”
Mrs Arnold said: “About five weeks ago the whole family was in Greece. When we were there he said, ‘I am not right’. We got home and he really was not well.
“A week ago they said his liver function was down. He died when the house was buzzing with people, who were all here to say goodbye.”
Tom is survived by his brother Luke, also 26, and his sister Elise, 24, his mother Jane and his father John.
Mrs Arnold said they were accepting donations for the Sulby Ward at Clatterbridge Hospital, in Liverpool, where Tom had been treated.
A funeral will take place at 12.45pm on Tuesday, June 26, at St Columba’s Catholic Parish Church, Plas Newton Lane.
Peter Mort, who played football with Tom for a number of years, said: “Tom was a really popular, nice lad. He was completely reliable, really willing to do his bit and a bit more. It was a pleasure to play football with him and have him play football for me.”
Keith Bolton, vice chairman of the Chester Sunday League, said: “He was cheerful and never had a bad word to say about anyone. I remember him as a total team player.
“He was just a nice lad. It’s a shame to lose him at 26.”
Andy Bennion, former manager of Dee Rangers, said: “When it came to local football, Tom immediately had an impact on the club with his positive attitude and his energy. Very quickly after coming to play for the team, he took on the role as secretary. For a new player, that shows what a willing person he was.”