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‘Giant of Hackney Marshes football’ Jermaine Wright dies aged 46 after contracting coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 09:52 04 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:05 04 May 2020

Jermaine Wright, a 'giant of Hackney Marshes', has died aged 46. Picture: Hackney and Leyton Sunday Football League

Jermaine Wright, a 'giant of Hackney Marshes', has died aged 46. Picture: Hackney and Leyton Sunday Football League

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Tributes have poured in for Jermaine Wright, a “giant of Hackney Marshes football” who has died aged 46 after contracting coronavirus.

Jermaine Wright. Picture: Hackney and Leyton Sunday Football LeagueJermaine Wright. Picture: Hackney and Leyton Sunday Football League

NHS worker Jermaine was a member of the London FA Council, secretary of the London FA North Division and fixtures and referee secretary of the Hackney and Leyton Sunday Football League. He was also a Level 7 referee and has been described as a “driving force for football in north east London”.

The Hackney and Leyton league said Jermaine, a senior pharmacy technician at Hammersmith Hospital, had been sent home from work to self-isolate in the middle of March and died on Monday last week after a month in the Royal Brompton Hospital.

It said: “The world has lost a son, a brother, a dear friend, a colleague and a true pantheon among grassroots football.”

Close friend Dino Constantinou, who runs the league’s website, added: “Jermaine has been a part of the League for 20 years. I often joked did he actually ever sleep. A man who not only worked full-time for the NHS but also worked tirelessly every day with the league.

“He lived for football, his huge obsessive passion being grassroots football and our beloved league.

“But Jermaine was not just someone who dedicated himself to our league. More than that he was an extraordinary human being. A man graced with spirit, soul, a zest for life and an unflinching ability to want to help people, often before himself.”

Secretary David Joseph has now launched a fundraiser with donations going to Jermaine’s family.

Hackney Wick FC founder Bobby Kasanga said the new pavilion on the North Marsh should be named after Jermaine.

Jermaine Wright in his playing days for Sailsbury FC. Picture: Hackney and Leyton Sunday Football LeagueJermaine Wright in his playing days for Sailsbury FC. Picture: Hackney and Leyton Sunday Football League

He added: “He was a giant figure of Hackney Marshes. He always encouraged and gave advice to everyone and will be fondly remembered by all.”

The London FA Council said his two passions were football and food, and he would put on a hot food buffet every Sunday afternoon for his teams.

It said: “The Hackney Marshes Centre was buzzing every Sunday afternoon with the fantastic atmosphere of food, televised football and the Hackney Marshes’ finest grassroots footballers, coaches and referees all together enjoying a football-focused Sunday afternoon.

“Building this level of camaraderie was key to the success of the league, and Jermaine was instrumental in ensuring teams, coaches and referees all bonded together as one after a morning of football.

“Jermaine epitomised what a grassroots football leader and London FA Council Member should be. An experienced football man, he was selfless, loved both the game and people as passionate about the game as he was. He was always willing to give up his own time to make a difference in grassroots football.”

Jermaine was also a mentor to young referees, including David Ritchie. He said: “I’m saddened to hear Jermaine passed away – a true maverick of grassroots football and referees in London. A friend, mentor and inspiration to many involved in football - he will be sorely missed.

“Thank you for taking me on and giving me so much support - whether that be on a Sunday or taking me with you to midweek County Cup games. Your infectious smile will live on.”

Caledonian Park FC secretary Charlie Akanu said he had nothing but found memories of Jermaine, a “joyous” man.

“I’ve know him from my late teen years to now as a 31 year old man,” he said. “In that time I have found such a great respect in the passion he has had for grassroots football and the community.

“We’ve had many debates and celebrations, being the last few people at Hackney Marshes on occasion watching football and sharing a few drinks, ending in a trip to Hackney central KFC before we go home.

“He was an integral part of running Hackney youth and adult football. We’re going to need many, many committed people to continue his legacy. I am still reeling from the news.”

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