Tributes have poured in from the world of football following Peter Whittingham’s death at the age of 35.
The former Cardiff playmaker suffered head injuries at a pub in Barry on March 7 from what South Wales Police have described as an “accidental fall”.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Whittingham’s former Cardiff boss, and ex-Bluebirds colleagues Aaron Ramsey and Robbie Fowler were among those to pay tribute to the cultured midfielder.
“I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Whittingham,” said Solskjaer, who was Cardiff manager in 2014.
“Peter was a fantastic footballer and an incredible human being. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him during my time at Cardiff City.
“It’s hard to believe that he has been taken from us at such a young age.
“Peter will be deeply missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”
Juventus and Wales midfielder Ramsey wrote on his Instagram account: “I will forever be grateful for you taking me under your wing.
“You were one of the most technical and gifted players I’ve played with and that left foot of yours was like a wand.
“I’m proud to have played alongside you and will always remember the young vs old games and you just running the show.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to your family, rest in peace Whitts was too young.”
Former Liverpool and England striker Fowler, who spent the 2007-08 season at Cardiff, tweeted: “Just awful news… Deepest sympathies go out to all his family and friends , one of life’s good guys, a genuinely real diamond of a man.”
Nuneaton-born Whittingham began his career at boyhood club Aston Villa and was part of the club’s 2002 FA Youth Cup-winning team.
He played 66 games for Villa and had loan spells at Burnley and Derby before embarking on a 10-year spell at Cardiff in January 2007.
Whittingham played in the FA Cup final in 2008 and the Carling Cup final in 2012, and collected a Championship winners’ medal in 2013 as Cardiff were promoted to the Premier League.
The former England Under-21 international made 459 appearances and scored 98 goals for Cardiff before finishing his career at Blackburn in 2018.
Cardiff said Whittingham’s death had left them “heartbroken” and had “shaken us to our very foundation”.
A club statement read: “It is with an immeasurable amount of sorrow that we must inform supporters that Peter Whittingham has passed away at the age of 35. We are heartbroken.
“The news of Peter’s sudden and untimely passing has shaken us to our very foundation.
“Our love goes out to his wife Amanda, their young son and family. They are at the forefront of our thoughts and, on their behalf, we ask for their privacy to be respected at this unfathomably cruel and difficult time.
“First and foremost, Peter was a family man – and somebody who could light up a room with his sense of humour, warmth and personality.
“Then, as a professional footballer – as a Bluebird – he excelled with talent, ease, grace and humility. Nobody did it better.
“The loss of Peter will be painfully felt by our city, supporters and indeed all who ever had the pleasure of knowing him. We love you Pete and your memory will eternally stay with us.”
Aston Villa and Blackburn both paid tribute to their former player.
“All at Aston Villa are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Peter Whittingham, an Academy graduate and FA Youth Cup winner who represented our first team between 2003 and 2007,” the Premier League club posted on their Twitter account.
“Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this incredibly difficult time.”
Blackburn said: “Rovers are deeply saddened to learn the news that former midfielder Peter Whittingham has passed away, aged 35.
“The thoughts of everyone at Rovers are with Peter’s wife Amanda, their young son and family at this incredibly difficult time.”
The official England teams and English Football League Twitter accounts also paid tribute, with the latter describing Whittingham as a “@CardiffCityFC and EFL legend”.
Whittingham’s former Cardiff captain Mark Hudson, now a first-team coach at Huddersfield, tweeted: “You my friend will received by the heavens with open arms.
“A truly wonderful player, I was lucky to have spent my time on the grass with you and part of my life enjoying your dry humour.
“You will be missed but never forgotten. My deepest sympathy to your family x Heart broken x.”
Leicester’s England playmaker James Maddison posted: “Rest in Peace Peter Whittingham. Didnt know him personally but have the biggest respect for his footballing ability and that wand of a left foot which scored so many free kicks which I absolutely loved watching. Thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Whittingham had been at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff since the accident nearly two weeks ago.
South Wales Police said on Wednesday said there is “no evidence or suggestion of a criminal act” and that it appeared the injury was caused by an “accidental fall”.
The Police said in a further statement on Thursday that a file of evidence is being prepared for the coroner.