A teacher from Nottingham drowned when he was swept out to sea while on holiday in Bulgaria.
Ethan McKen, 24, was at the Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach, when he was hit by a wave and could not get back to the shore, during a Club 18-30 holiday on Saturday August 8.
He was travelling with a group of three friends and had only arrived the day before. One other member of the group entered the sea, but was safe and recovering in a local medical centre, tour operator Thomas Cook said.
The former pupil at the Henry Mellish School in Bulwell also played for Bulwell FC as a defender
Club secretary Andy Radford said: “He was an absolutely genuine lad - his manners and attitude were impeccable. He was the life ansd soul of the party and as a footballer he knew what he was talking about.
“He played in our pre-season friendly and a full game for the reserves on the same day his fitness levels were unreal.
“The last time we saw him was at the training session on Tuesday. He was lively and boyish and looking forward to his holidays and it’s a sad loss to the club and to his family.”
A minute’s silence was held before the club’s match against Keyworth on Tuesday night with around 150 people in attendance.
“It very touching - every member of the club lined up along the width of the pitch. Keyworth laid a wreath and a T-shirt with his position as left-back in the centre circle
“You could have heard a pin drop as club members said what they thought of him. Everyone held RIP placards in the grounds.”
Ethan’s aunt, Kathleen Richardson, paid tribute to the teacher who was due to start a new job in September working with disadvantaged children.
She said: “There is nobody who can say anything bad about the young man.
“He was an absolute star. He has got five brothers and he was the glue for all five of them. He was the one who made arragements for everybody to get together.
“It is just so sad, he had so many plans and he had got so much to look forward to.”
Mr Mcken worked across the county at different schools as a PE teacher.
Jo Redfern, executive headteacher of Selston C of E Infant and Nursery School, said: “He was a vibrant and warm personality, who quickly established himself as a member of the staff team in both schools.
“His determination to do his very best for the children was evident from the outset.
“In return, they loved him and responded positively during his lessons. He was a kind and committed young teacher who showed great potential.
“We were all devastated to hear the news of Ethan’s death at weekend. Both schools have been open as a response to the parents’ desire to leave flowers for him. Our thoughts and prayers are with all Ethan’s family and friends at this dreadful time.”
Flowers and messages of condolence were left at the Selston school.
One message said: “I know all the kids thought the worold of you and loved having you as their teacher. All our thoughts are with you and your family at this time.”
Mr Mcken also worked at Brinsley Primary School.
Headteacher Jo Knapp said: “The school is deeply saddened by the news of the death of Mr Ethan McKen.
“Mr McKen inspired pupils from the ages of four to 11 to take part in physical activity. He was a valued and highly talented member of staff who brought enthusiasm for learning and teaching to his work. Mr McKen was a young man whose energy and passion for sport radiated from him and captivated the pupils he worked with.
“More than anything, Mr McKen was a dedicated teacher who did everything he could for the benefit of the children. Every child was important to him and he will be sadly missed.”
He graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a first class honours degree in sports science and management.
Dr Graham Sharpe, undergraduate courses manager at the university, said: “From the moment Ethan arrived at Nottingham Trent University he fizzed with energy and showed a real love for university life.
“In classes he sparkled with enthusiasm and was regularly bursting to offer an opinion or to make a contribution. He studied hard and achieved outstanding grades.
“He was a tremendously popular student and his easy sense of humour, impeccable behaviour and his desire to get the most out of life made him a hugely positive role model.”