Tributes have been paid to a former amateur footballer who died suddenly aged 56.

Mohammed Hanif Patel played for Daiseyfield Football Club in the eighties and for a range of local teams in Blackburn.

Nicknamed by some as Alex Stepney after the Manchester United goalkeeper, Mohammed was well known to many in local football.

Friend Ismail Esat, who knew him well, told us: “He was very well liked by many people and he will be missed by us all.

“It was different competing in local football in those days and we came up against a lot of barriers. But he was always someone we could rely upon and he played in the spirit of the game.

“I think many people will remember his passion for competing and giving 100 per cent.

“He had for many years devoted himself to Islam and he was a genuinely good guy and respected by many people.”

Ismail said he was always keen to support local sport where he could. “Although he was a Manchester United fan he would spend most of his recent years at Blackburn Rovers!”

Mohammed’s son, Yahya went on to become a referee.