A flurry of clubs have paid tribute to former professional footballer James Dean after a search party found a body close to where the 35-year-old went missing in Lancashire.
A large-scale search for the former football player began after Mr Dean went missing in the Orchard Drive area of Oswaldtwistle, Accrington, late in the evening of Wednesday 5 May 2021.
Local police confirmed they had found the body of a missing man, believed to be Mr Dean, in the Moscow Mill Street area of Oswaldtwistle on the afternoon of Sunday 9 May 2021.
A statement released by Lancashire Police reads: “Police searching for a missing man have sadly found a body.
“While the body has yet to be formally identified, it is believed to be Mr Dean. His family have been informed and our thoughts are with them at this time.
“The death is not being treated as suspicious and a post-mortem examination will take place in due course. We would like to thank everyone who assisted during the search for James.”
Who did James Dean play for?
Mr Dean played for a number of football clubs in the Lancashire area and beyond, including Bury, Harrogate, Halifax and Chorley, and was a well-known figure in the non-League scene.
Born in Blackburn, Mr Dean began his football career with Great Harwood Town in the same team as future Premier League and England under-21s striker Matt Derbyshire.
The 6’3” forward attracted suitors from higher up the football pyramid and after short spells with Clitheroe and Northwich Victoria he signed for Bury, then of League Two, in 2007.
Time at Altrincham and Stalybridge Celtic followed before he joined the latter on a permanent deal.
Mr Dean enjoyed spells at Hyde United, Harrogate Town, FC Halifax Town, AFC Fylde and Chorley, where he helped the club to promotion to the Conference North in his first season.
He went on to play for Ashton United, Warrington Town, Padiham, Trafford and Bamber Bridge.
What have James Dean’s former clubs said about him?
Tributes to Mr Dean flooded social media following the sad news.
Boston United, who would often face teams featuring Mr Dean in attack, offered their condolences to “a fearsome competitor on the pitch”.
A post on Twitter read: “We are deeply saddened to hear the news about James Dean - a regular opponent over the years for Stalybridge Celtic, FC Halifax Town and most notably Chorley. A fearsome competitor on the pitch. RIP.”
Chorley FC posted: “We're absolutely devastated by this afternoon's news - the thoughts of everyone connected with the club are with James Dean's family & friends #RIPDEANO”
FC Halifax Town said: “We're absolutely devastated by this news - the thoughts of everyone connected with the Club are with James Dean's family & friends.”
Stalybridge Celtic posted on Twitter: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of former Celtic player James Dean. Rest in peace, James.”
Harrogate Town said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of former Town player James Dean at this incredibly sad time.”
Clitheroe added: “Everyone at Clitheroe FC is devastated at the news of James Dean’s death. We would like to extend our condolences to all the family and all his former teammates across football.”