Home   Tonbridge   News   Article

Tonbridge Angels - Junior Dian's brother pays tribute after he collapsed during match and later died

The family of a young footballer who died after collapsing during a Tonbridge Angels match have spoken of their devastation.

Trialist, Junior Dian, dropped to the floor in the second half of a friendly, pre-season game against Whyteleafe FC at their Surrey-based ground on Tuesday.

Two club physios rushed to his aid and gave CPR before paramedics arrived to take him to St George's Hospital in South London, where the 24-year-old sadly died in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Junior died after collapsing on pitch during a match for Tonbridge Angels
Junior died after collapsing on pitch during a match for Tonbridge Angels

Junior was a half-time substitute for the Ryman Premier side, but fell unconscious 20 minutes later. The game was subsequently abandoned.

His younger brother, Prince Dian-Tomba, has spoken of his shock and disbelief. Speaking to KentOnline, he said: "I'm literally devastated right now. I'm heartbroken, my older brother is gone.

"He was a healthy guy, so for him to just collapse and to go and leave us with no explanation, I feel lost, I am lost for words. He's gone for doing something he loves, it's crazy.

"We always had each other's back that’s what brothers do. The pain hasn't come yet. I still can’t believe he’s gone it hasn’t sunk in. It’s so fresh. My mum only flew out on holiday two days ago and I had to tell her this morning, it broke me."

The pair lived together at their mother's home in Ilford, Essex. Mr Dian-Tomba said Junior was excited to pursue his career in football and had high hopes for the future.

He added: "We used to tell him Junior you're talented at football don’t let it go to waste, then finally he gets this team, in a good league and then this happens.

"Once Junior stepped in a room everyone knew it. He was a lovely character, bubbly he was just wonderful, he was my older brother. He was a good guy, his heart was pure and he showed love for everyone.

"He was my role model. Now I have to keep strong hold my head up for my mum. I have to keep my brother in my prayers, that’s all we can do right now is keep him in our prayers. He was a wonderful guy, the good die young."

Junior Dian
Junior Dian

Tributes from friends and teammates poured in yesterday as news of Junior's death broke.

Steve Churcher, chairman of Tonbridge Angels said it was devastating news. He added: "Our only crumb of comfort is that Junior lost his life doing something he obviously enjoyed so much."

Junior was taken to hospital accompanied by Tonbridge players Jerrome Sobers and James Folkes. His family joined them but despite their best efforts, doctors couldn't save Dian's life.

Tonbridge Angels manager Steve McKimm told of the terrible moment he heard the news.

Steve Churcher, left, with Tonbridge Angels manager Steve McKimm Picture: David Couldridge
Steve Churcher, left, with Tonbridge Angels manager Steve McKimm Picture: David Couldridge

He said: "Just after 1am I got a text to say Junior had passed away. I was like a baby. I couldn’t stop crying.

"Something like that, for a 24-year-old doing something he loves, it affects the family first and foremost but it affects other people as well. Nothing can prepare you for this and no words can describe it."

Stephen McCartney, editor of Kentish Football, witnessed Dian's collapse. In a statement the 38-year-old said it was the "worst moment" he had ever seen.

Andrew Steadman, a share holder for the club, said it was the team's "darkest day". Tonbridge defender, Sonny Miles, who played the first half of the friendly said it was football's worst moment.

Flowers left outside the Tonbridge Angels stadium
Flowers left outside the Tonbridge Angels stadium

A fundraising page has now been set up to help pay for Junior's funeral. A message on the Go Fund Me site reads: "Anyone that knows Junior Dian, knows that all he knew to do was have a good time. He loved banter and most of all LOVED dancing!

"This page is set up so we can give him the BEST send off we possibly can! He was the most friendly loving guy in Illford. All those that came across him - can surely testify!

"Help us give him a send off he can truly be proud of. Let's also help his family throughout this time. Whatever you can give will be greatly appreciated."

To donate click here.

Floral tributes were left outside the doors of the Tonbridge Angels stadium in Darenth Avenue in the hours after Junior's death.

Flowers left outside the Tonbridge Angels stadium
Flowers left outside the Tonbridge Angels stadium

Public figures including Harry Redknapp, Karen Millen and Tonbridge and Malling MP, Tom Tugendhat, also paid tribute to Junior on social media.

In a statement on its website, Tonbridge Angels FC said a pre-season friendly against Gillingham will go ahead on Saturday, but will be dedicated to Junior's memory.

There will be a minute's applause together with a special area in the ground where players and supporters alike can lay tributes.

The statement continues: "Junior was associated with the club for only a very short time but in that time he became part of the Angels family and it is therefore right that we are all able to pay our respects to this young footballer who sadly is no longer with us."

Counselling is also being offered to all those affected by the devastating incident.

Stories you might have missed

'I don't want my daughter thinking she's different'

It's show time! - Kent prepares for county event

Play area 'hotbed of sex and drugs'

Council misses deadline to stop huge housing plans

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More