TRIBUTES have been paid to a 20-year-old waiter and amateur footballer who died on Christmas Day after contracting meningitis.

Harris Steven Thompson was a player with Calverley United. where he lived, and worked at Murgatroyds fish and chip shop in Yeadon.

His dad Steve said: "He was a lovely lad. It was a bit of a shock."

He thanked the club, Murgatroyds and all those who knew Harris who had supported the family since his death.

Mr Thompson, who has been involved with United as a player and manager, was particularly struck by the large turnout of spectators for the seniors' game on Saturday which saw the players remember Harris and decorate one of the goals with flowers.

He said Harris had played for the juniors and seniors and for the Thackley club.

He said his son has started part-time at Murgatroyds but had extended his hours. He was looking at an electrical apprenticeship and had applied to colleges.

Harris attended Calverley Parkside Primary School and Benton Park in Rawdon but was forced to miss lots of school when he was 15 when he suffered from juvenile angiofibroma which saw a non-cancerous tumour develop in the void behind his nose.

United manager Lee Graham said: "He was lovely lad. It is a sad loss. It came out of the blue.

"Harris was always ready to play anywhere you asked."

He said the club's juniors will play with black armbands this weekend.

The club posted on its Facebook page: "A big thank you to everyone that turned out to watch the game and more importantly pay there respects. The lads couldn’t believe it walking out to see the amount of people on the sideline.

"We might have lost one of our own but he certainly will never be forgotten Rest In Peace Harris. Not only have we lost a talented footballer but an even better person off the pitch as many people will tell you."

Murgatroyds manager Laura Henderson said: “It’s still very raw. We are missing him a lot.

“He was a fantastic waiter and a genuine kind-hearted man.”

She said he had worked at the restaurant for about four years and was looking at starting an apprenticeship. “It’s a terrible loss to us,” she added.

A message posted on Murgatroyds' Facebook page said: “It seems apt that Harris is our final advent window, because he was such a huge gift to Murgatroyds. Harris, you are kind, loyal, loving, a wonderful friend and a beautiful person inside and out.

“Words cannot express how heartbroken we are, and there will forever be a Harris sized hole in Team Murgs that can never be filled. Rest in peace, we all love you and we are thinking of your lovely family at such a difficult time.”

Another local footballer Nick Wade, who had played for Wyke Wanderers from a young age, also died on Christmas Day after having suffered from ulcerative colitis for years.

The two clubs have been in touch and they could possibly play a game to honour the duo and act as a fundraiser.