THE football shirt of a young Bolton Wanderers fan who died after a motorway pile-up will be placed on his seat as a poignant tribute at the club’s next home game.

Season ticket holder Shaun Bates, aged 11, died after the car he was travelling in was involved in a six-vehicle crash on the M6 on Saturday.

Shaun, his dad David, aged 51, and two friends were travelling to Bolton from Rugby in Warwickshire for the Aston Villa game.

Mr Bates, originally from Little Lever, left Bolton in 1983 but has been a life-long Wanderers supporter.

Speaking for the first time about the tragedy, he said: “Shaun made people smile. You only had to look at him.

“He was cheeky and he changed anybody that came into contact with him. He just had that way. He made people happy.

“I just feel very lucky I had him in my life. I was blessed and he made my life better.”

Since the tragedy, Bolton Wanderers has become involved and, on Wednesday, chairman Phil Gartside made a special visit to the family to pay his respects.

Mr Bates, who suffered cracked ribs in the crash, said: “I am really overwhelmed with what the club have done. They didn’t just send a representative, it was Phil Gartside himself.

“I met him at the door and he offered his condolences. Then we started talking about football and the matches me and Shaun had gone to.

“He was very relaxed and had a sandwich and a cup of tea with us and told us the club was always there for us. He really went beyond the call of duty.”

The accident happened near to junction 16 of the M6 at Staffordshire at around 1pm. Mr Bates and Shaun were in the car with a friend and her son when it was hit from behind.

Shaun, a back seat passenger, was airlifted to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. He had a broken pelvis, was paralysed from the neck down and had suffered brain damage. Doctors took Mr Bates out of the accident and emergency department to get his permission to turn off the life support machine.

Mr Bates said: “If Shaun had survived, he would not have wanted to live in the condition he was in. He loved life, loved his football. He just wouldn’t have had it.”

Mr Bates received a kidney transplant 18 months ago and decided Shaun’s organs should be made available for transplant.

“One day it might save other lives. Something could come out of the tragedy,” said Mr Bates.

He said his family, including Shaun’s mother, Bernadetta, aged 50, older brother Simon, aged 30, and sister Chantiece, aged 12, were struggling to accept his death.

Mr Bates will be too ill to attend the Sunderland game at the Reebok.

He said: “I didn’t want to go to the Reebok again. I could not envision going without him.

“But friends have told me that, in future, I should go for him and I know I have got the club’s support.”

There will also be a tribute to Shaun in the match day programme and the club are in discussions with the family about a further tribute being placed on the Walkway of Fame outside the stadium.