The father of a young footballer who played for Ashton on Mersey FC has paid an emotional tribute to his son following his death over the weekend.

On Sunday evening, Winsford United issued a statement confirming their forward Ross Aikenhead, 24, who lived in Sale, had died, and tributes flowed in from the local footballing community.

Now, the club have released a tribute from his father John in which he confirmed Ross’s death was related to his epilepsy.

He also paid tribute to Winsford and said he had never seen his son as happy as when he was turning out for Blues.

“For people who didn’t know, Ross had epilepsy and this is what led to him being taken from us far too soon,” he said.

“The world will be a different place now for anyone who knew Ross. He was a beautiful boy with an infectious smile.

"I am determined not to live my life sad every day because he is not here. It is my mission to carry him in my heart and smile, not cry, when I think of him.

“Ross started his football journey aged five at Ashton on Mersey FC as part of a team which won numerous cups and tournaments and were a force to be reckoned with, which is where he found his love and passion for the game.

“Ross adored his football and anyone who knows me knows how much I loved to watch him play.

“He played for so many teams in his short life. I am so thankful for the lovely words from all the clubs he has played for – Hyde Utd, Wythenshawe Amateurs, Wythenshawe Town and Broadheath Central.

“I have never seen him so happy as he has been lately, playing at Winsford Utd. He was living his best life and was destined for better things.

“I will always be grateful for the way Winsford welcomed him and helped him flourish.

“I watched him grow stronger as a footballer, a leader and a man. They helped him find his confidence and his voice.

“I am overwhelmed by the amount of messages and tributes showing the love people had for my son.

“If anyone would like to attend Winsford Utd on Thursday 4th April at 19:45pm there will be a tribute to Ross before kick-off.

“Ross was loved much more than words can say and he will be deeply missed by all but especially by me, his mum Sam, his sister Maisie and his brothers, Joel and Luke.”

'A fantastic young man and a terrific footballer'

Winsford announced Aikenhead's tragic passing in a short statement released on Sunday evening

“Ross was a fantastic young man and a terrific footballer,” their statement on X/Twitter read.

“He will be sorely missed by everyone associated with the club, our heartfelt sympathy goes out to all of Ross’s family and friends.”

Saturday’s game at Cheadle Heath Nomads was postponed due to “unforeseen circumstances” although it is not known whether or not this was linked to Aikenhead’s death.

Aikenhead had been the club’s leading scorer this season having found the net 14 times in his 23 appearances for Blues.

When news of his passing was announced, tributes flooded in on social media.