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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 August 2007, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Tribute over young player's death
Anton Reid
Anton Reid spent a week at Manchester United
The mother of a 16-year-old football league club apprentice who died after collapsing at a training session has said the sport was "his life".

Sonia Bailey said Walsall striker Anton Reid, who would have received his GCSE results on Thursday, was the "nicest child possible" and always polite.

She said he had trophies and medals in his room and ate and slept the game after playing since he was about six.

Anton collapsed at the University of Aston training ground on Monday.

He had great strength, great pace, and a willingness to defend with all his might
Walsall's head of youth Mick Halsall

His MySpace web page said his footballing heroes were Rio Ferdinand, Ledley King and Pele.

His mother said he played with Ferdinand's club, Manchester United, for a week and was initially at West Bromwich Albion before joining Walsall.

She said: "As far as he's concerned, football was going to be his life. He was gifted - he used to play as a goalkeeper initially.

"It's just completely devastated the whole, entire family (and) all his friends - everyone.

"This morning I went into his room - you just expect to see him lying there in bed.

"Anton must be so special why he's been taken away from me. I am so proud of Anton."

'Lovely lad'

Many friends have left messages on his MySpace page, which stated he was a former pupil of Blue Coat Church of England Comprehensive School, Walsall.

He had written: "I am hoping to make it big in life. You will be seeing me on TV so watch out for Anton Reid."

A minute's silence will take place on Saturday before Walsall's League One home game against Swansea City and the proceeds of a draw will also be donated to the boy's family.

Walsall's chairman Jeff Bonser said the club are devastated and would do their utmost to help the family in any way.

Head of youth Mick Halsall said: "Anton had a big future in front of him. He had great strength, great pace, and a willingness to defend with all his might.

"He was a lovely lad with a real determination to succeed."

Flags at the club's Banks's Stadium have been flying at half-mast and the reserve team game against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday was postponed as a mark of respect.

Anton Reid was a first year apprentice at Walsall Football Club


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