The parents of a Lancashire football coach stabbed to death in New York say they have been left ‘devastated’ by his brutal murder.
Michael Jones, 25, from Tarleton, near Preston, was killed at 4.26am local time on Sunday, according to the New York Police Department.
Officers answering an emergency call found Mr Jones close to Union Square, near 25 West 14th Street, with stab wounds to his neck and torso. His ear had also been severed.
The ex-Tarleton Academy pupil, who was described as a ‘dream student’ by his former PE teacher, had moved to the USA to coach junior players with the New York Red Bulls.
The Major League Soccer side have organised a memorial service for Mr Jones tomorrow at 10am at the First Baptist Church in New York.
His father Perry, 50, and mother Carole, 53, said their son had been due to return to their home in The Chimes, Tarleton, next month.
Mr Jones said: “We are devastated. We’re exhausted.
“He loved it over there and was ecstatic when he was offered a contract with the New York Red Bulls.
“He does 10-month terms and he was due home at the end of November.”
The family were informed when Michael’s brother Philip received a Facebook message, stating there had been an accident and they needed to ring police in New York.
He said: “They haven’t arrested anybody in New York yet. We’ve got local police here assisting us and a police liaison officer assigned.
“We’re not required to fly to America, but there are certain procedures we need to go through to get him repatriated back to the UK.”
A youth coach who worked with Mr Jones in America said the passionate Liverpool FC supporter was a superb teacher who loved football.
Neal Morrin, 44, originally from Dublin, said: “I’m devastated, as are all those that knew him. I’m a lot older than Mike, but would love playing against him in practice games after our own weekly coaching meetings.
“He was one rock hard centre half who was brilliant in the air, both at defending and when coming up for corners.
“But what really impressed me about him was his willingness and drive to become better. It wasn’t just the kids who were learning but Mike also.
“He worked to become a complete player and passed that on to the kids he taught.”
He said his friend loved to get involved in games with his teams, despairing if they hit a post and celebrating like he was one of them when they scored.
He said: “His sessions were lively and well thought out and he constantly motivated them, but hardly ever directed them.
“He would demonstrate techniques with great relish, especially when coaching an attacking session, although there were times in the heat and fun of summer camps when some of the younger kids would ask with a puzzled look ‘why does coach Mike always kick the ball really high over the bar when showing us how to shoot at goal?’.
“Mike, I and many others will miss you terribly and there are lots of kids who will be missing a superb coach and mentor who showed them how much the game meant to him and what is was like to love a game with all your heart.
“RIP Mike. You’ll Never Walk Alone.”