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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August, 2003, 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK
Football stars united in grief
Sir Alex Ferguson among other mourners at the funeral of Jimmy Davis
About 500 people attended the service
England captain David Beckham joined his former Manchester United team mates to pay his last respects at a funeral service for young striker Jimmy Davis, who died in a car crash.

The Real Madrid star and United manager Sir Alex Ferguson were among about 500 people who mourned the death of the 21-year-old, who was killed on the M40 in Oxfordshire earlier this month.

Family and friends were also joined by representatives and players from both United and Watford, where the striker had been on a one-year loan.

Mourners gathered at the service in Redditch, Worcestershire, on Thursday afternoon to pay tribute to the England under-20 football star.

'Bubbly character'

Aside from Beckham and Ferguson, some of the most recognisable names in football were at the ceremony, including Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

The striker died in the early hours of 9 August when his BMW collided with a DAF lorry.

He was a player with real potential - at 21 he had great promise
Sir Alex Ferguson

The former pupil at Arrow Vale High School, Redditch, was travelling to Watford's Vicarage Road ground for a game against Coventry City when the accident happened.

The game was postponed as a mark of respect.

The young footballer joined Manchester United as a trainee in July 1999 and turned professional eight weeks later.

He made his first team debut for United in 2001 in the Worthington Cup against Arsenal and had a loan spell at Swindon Town last season.

Jimmy Davis
Jimmy Davis was an England under-20 player
The Manchester United manager was among the first to pay tribute to Davis after his death.

Sir Alex said: "You could not meet a nicer and more bubbly character than Jimmy Davis.

"He was a player with real potential, that's why we sent him to Watford this season.

"At 21 he had great promise. We are all really sad. It's terrible news."

Gill Dillon, one of the striker's former teachers, paid tribute to him before the service: "Obviously he was an outstanding footballer, but there was more to Jimmy than that.

"He had a wonderful sense of humour, he added a glitter to our school and we're proud to have had him here as a student."

England captain David Beckham was among the mourners
David Beckham arrived at the funeral in a chauffeur-driven BMW

In a statement issued by police before the service, the player's mother and stepfather, Jenny and Paul Burton, thanked everyone who had sent messages of condolence.

It said: "We have had thousands of cards and letters from friends, supporters and members of the public and we would like to thank each and everyone of them for the kind things they have said about Jimmy.

"Their messages have meant so much to us during this nightmare that we are living. They have given us some hope and comfort."

Jimmy's father Roger Davis and Mr Davis' partner Sue Dixon, added: "We are aiming to write to everyone to thank them for the presents and kind messages.

"This is clearly a very traumatic time for the whole family and we would like to be able to celebrate the life Jimmy had with the people who meant so much to him."




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Midlands Today's Hazel Westwood
"A signing with Manchester United at the age of 14 confirmed the star status he was destined for."



SEE ALSO:
Man Utd starlet killed in crash
09 Aug 03  |  Football
Watford lure Man Utd fledgling
08 Jul 03  |  Watford


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