Lancaster City ex-captain Neil Marshall dies from cancer

Neil Marshall Image copyright Lancaster City
Image caption Neil Marshall was diagnosed with cancer in 2014

A former football captain has died at the age of 31 after battling cancer.

Lancaster City's Neil Marshall passed away on Wednesday two years after he was diagnosed with the illness in the lymph nodes.

Born in Lancaster and a plumber by trade, the defender played 485 matches for the club between his 2006 debut and retirement this summer.

Chairman Stuart Houghton said: "He was always a great ambassador for the club and a gentleman."

He added that former club manager Tony Hesketh never needed to have Marshall's phone number because of his reliability.

Mr Houghton said: "He would always be at training and always at the match."

Regarded as a local hero, he was given trials at bigger clubs but "chose not to go", Mr Houghton said.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Lancaster City announced the news on Twitter

Marshall, who was married with two young children, initially did not make his cancer diagnosis public but later wrote about it in a regular column for the Lancaster Guardian.

After his first operation, the player would watch matches at the stadium with a tube hidden in his trousers to drain lymph fluid.

He later continued to play for the club, which is in the eighth tier of the English Football League, until his retirement at the end of last season.

Twitter tributes

Former Lancaster player-coach Michael Stringfellow said: "He was willing to go through a brick wall for his hometown on the field but off the pitch he was such a lovely character."

Nearly 1,000 fans turned out for the player's testimonial in April, which featured former professional footballer and Lancaster City manager Trevor Sinclair against a Liverpool Legends and Guests side.

In October, Marshall had an operation after a tumour was found in his brain but, a few days later, he turned out to watch Lancaster City play.

Many people paid tribute to the former footballer on Twitter, including English boxer Anthony Crolla.

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