Tributes to boy with flair for football

Tributes were paid last night to a football-mad Lowestoft boy who died hours after being named man of the match by his team mates.

Tributes were paid last night to a football-mad Lowestoft boy who died hours after being named man of the match by his team mates.

Cantonio Thompson was named after Manchester United's French legend Eric Cantona, who played for the club in the 1990s and was his father, Arthur Thompson's, sporting hero.

But after playing football for his Waveney Under-nines Lynx team on Sunday, Cantonio was found lifeless in his bed by his mother on Monday morning.

It is believed the nine-year-old had suffered a severe asthma attack and despite frantic efforts from family and neighbours, they were unable to resuscitate him.

Last night, his mother Rachel Able paid tribute to her "happy-go-lucky" son who had fought against the condition to play the game he loved.

"He just loved his football," she said. "He wouldn't let anything get in the way of that. And although he suffered with asthma he didn't let it get to him - he was a fighter who did what he wanted to achieve.

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"Despite only being nine, Cantonio had created a history in his own right - he had done so much in his young life."

The youngster, of Reeve Street, who had two sisters and two brothers, won the man of the match after a game against Hempnall A U9s.

But Ms Able was faced with a horrifying discovery at 7am the following morning.

"He was just stone cold despite having a big duvet on - I just screamed," she said.

Although paramedics were called, no one was able to revive the youngster.

After being hospitalised for his asthma last August and in November 2003, Cantonio had not had any major problems for a few months.

Described as a very sporty youngster, who enjoyed school, the St Margaret's Primary School pupil was looking forward to going to Harris Middle School later this year.

"I'll remember his cheeky grin . . . but none of us can believe it. Everyone can recall him being the cheeky little boy who you could never tell off," said Ms Able.

The cause of Cantonio's death has not yet been revealed, although it is understood he may have been born with a previously undetected hole in his heart.

School colleagues have been paying their own tributes with a memorial plaque and pictures.

Jenny Cutchey, headteacher at the St Margaret's Primary School, in Ipswich Road, said: "Cantonio was a lively, energetic boy with a zest for life - he often livened up lessons with his sense of humour," she said. "He was a tough little character and will be greatly missed by us all."

All Waveney FC club teams will observe a minute's silence this weekend where 50 gold and black balloons will be released.

And this week, the club has been in contact with Manchester United with regard to sending a sympathy card ahead of the funeral.

His funeral will take place at Lowestoft Cemetery Chapel on February 6 at 10am.