Tarleton was brought to a standstill as more than a hundred mourners said goodbye to the murdered football coach Michael Jones.
The 25-year-old was stabbed to death in New York on Sunday, October 7, in what is believed to have been a case of mistaken identity.
A procession set off from the The Pavilion in Carr Lane, the home of Michael’s old team, Tarleton Corinthians FC, at around 11.45am.
The bells of Holy Trinity Church rang out as traffic was halted by police officers and onlookers stopped to watch swathes of family and friends pay their respects to the former Tarleton Academy pupil.
The funeral service began with a statement read out by the Reverend Nicholas Davis on behalf of Michael’s parents, Perry, 50, and Carole, 53, and brother Philip.
The family talked of their “beloved son, brother and grandson”, and described how he grew from a young swimming star and popular Scout to a passionate football player and coach, who “wanted to be the best” in everything he did.
Those in attendance heard how Michael coached players at Preston North West Disability Team before using his “can do attitude” to fulfil his dream of coaching with the New York Red Bulls in America.
A touching poem written by the family was followed by heartfelt speeches from five of Michael’s good friends.
A young woman described how he was “the life and soul of the party” and “the first one on everyone’s guestlist”, and drew laughter with tales of his elaborate dancing routines.
Two football coaches, who worked with Michael in the Red Bull’s youth programs, said he was “idolised by thousands of players and beloved by their parents” and “always smiling and laughing”.
A football manager described him as “a great man”, with “amazing passion and love for his family”, and a friend who chose Michael to be his best man at his wedding, just six weeks ago, said: “We all wish for one more beer, one more laugh, and a few more words to share with him.
“I will always remember him as my best man.
“He certainly was.”
Michael’s family thanked people for making “a difficult time a little easier” as the ceremony closed with The Beatles’ song In My Life.
They said: “From mum, goodbye my warm, tender, loving young man, you will be in my heart forever.
“From dad, see you later mate, I will forever miss our time together.”