Published: 10:00, 30 January 2018
| Updated: 10:06, 30 January 2018
Former Premier League referee Paul Alcock has died after a long battle with cancer, aged 64.
Mr Alcock passed away at Maidstone Hospital on Monday afternoon, just over two years after being diagnosed with the disease, which ravaged his body and forced his weight to plummet dramatically.
The Premier League great, famed for showing Paolo Di Canio red and receiving a solid shove in return, was also manager of the Mall Chequers Centre in Maidstone and raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity following his retirement from top flight football.
It is understood Mr Alcock and Di Canio met at a promotional event shortly after the incident in 1998 and "had a good laugh about it".
Close friend Bill Moss, 68, said: "I've known him many years and he was an absolute stalwart of town centre management and of course football which was his great passion.
"He reached the pinnacle which any aspiring referee wants to reach by officiating in the Premier League.
"Even after he retired, which he had to do aged 47, he stuck with it and became a referee assessor. I went with him many times to matches and it was obvious how respected he was from people across the game.
"He was one of those faces that everyone knew, and everyone wanted a piece of him."
Initially diagnosed in August 2015, Mr Alcock, who lived in Church Street, Boughton Monchelsea, underwent an intensive period of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and lost three stone in 24 days while at Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury.
However, despite his deteriorating health, Mr Moss said his old friend remained positive all the way through until his final days.
"I've seen him every step of the way as he's battled the cancer and he fought and fought and fought.
"It's the opinion of most that his heart lasted more than anyone could have imagined because he was so fit.
"Paul has always been a fighter and he fought it to the very end. He will be missed by a cross-section of people."