Stars Pay Respects

West Ham players past and present, shocked today by the news of Les Sealey's untimely death, have been paying their tribute.
Steve Bywater, a friend of Les' two sons George and Joe - both trainees at the club - says he is "shocked" and adds:
"He was the main reason I came down here - to get coaching from him.
"I will always remember him and what he has taught me.
"He was a good man as well as as a great coach, and it is so sad for someone to lose their life so young.
"He is a perfectionist and wants everything to be done properly.
"That is the way he was: he wanted the best out of everyone, his sons and the other keepers.
"My sympathy goes out to George and Joe because what we are going through is nothing to what they are going through.
"I still can't believe it now; I expect him to ring up and see how I'm doing.
"I only spoke to him on Friday and he was asking me if I was working hard, and how I was.
"Everyone who came in to training couldn't believe the news - it still hasn't sunk in."
Fellow keeper Craig Forrest adds:
"It is tragic; we got along with Les so well and his boys were absolute diamonds.
"They are a really lovely family; Les was nothing off the park he wasn't on it.
"He hated losing and worked so hard to win - everything he did, he did professionally.
"He was a class act and had been working for the agent that I'm involved with since his departure from West Ham, so I was talking to him virtually daily.
"Everyone is numb about it; it is a complete tragedy, and I just hope that Elaine and the kids can get through it the best way they know how.
"George and Joe are young lads and to have their father taken away from them so quickly is unthinkable, and I really don't know what that feels like.
"I just hope they can bounce back from it, even though it will take a long time.
"They will never ever get over it completely but I would say to them that their dad was such a gem of a fellow."
Les was goalkeeping coach at Upton Park until the summer, and Craig adds:
"It was a pleasure to train with him every day.
"Sometimes when you are grinding out a season for ten months, goalkeeping training can be lethargic and repetitive.
"But he made it enjoyable for us every day no matter how down we were.
"Sometimes you came in and didn't feel like working that hard but he would always get the best out of you.
"I enjoyed being his friend as well as a colleague."
Craig would receive a non stop stream of advice from Les whenever he played, and says:
"You could always hear Les from the sidelines and he took it personally if we didn't do so well. "He worked so hard to make sure we performed, and when we did he felt as great about it as we did.
"That's what made him such a great guy; I enjoyed every minute with him - except the rollockings!"
Craig hopes that his sons, who are both keepers aged 16 and 18, can follow in his footsteps - perhaps at West Ham.
"It would be a fairytale for them," says Craig, "and no-one would be more pleased than myself if one of them could do that.
"I know that Joe has had a problem with his shoulder again and I feel for him.
"Hopefully he can get it right and continue his career, but if not, with Les' personality both of them will be able to do anything they want."
He admits that the news put a dampener on training at Chadwell Heath, adding:
"It wasn't the best atmosphere; when somebody gets taken from you it hits home just what is important and what isn't.
"We worry about playing and contracts, but such things are so irrelevant when something like this strikes home.
"What is important is that you enjoy yourself as much as you can because someone very close to you could be taken away from you very quickly."
Goalkeeping legend Ernie Gregory, who spent 60 years at the club in one capacity or another, says:
"It is terrible news; somebody told me this morning, and it is unbelievable.
"I didn't know him too well but I knew his uncle Alan well - we go back donkey's years.
"I'm very sorry for his family."
And Tony Gale, at 41 just two years younger than Les, adds:
"It is tragic news, especially for one so young.
"I grew up more or less at the same time as Les, and have a young family of my own; my condolences obviously go out to his family.
"He was a character and certainly put his all into something when he was going into it.
"I will always have memories of Les shouting and bawling at his defenders and at his goalkeeping proteges at West Ham when he was a goalkeeping coach there.
"He did everything with 100% enthusiasm."
Tony, now working as a pundit with Capital Radio, adds:
"I could hear his voice from my commentary position up in the stand; Les was up and down the line, and that's how he wanted it to be.
"He was perfectly involved with it, and Harry and Frank both understood that's how Les was, and I think everybody understands.
"His uncle was the hero of the Cup Winners' Cup final and of course his sons are on the books.
"Hopefully at least one of them will go on to play for West Ham and give us lasting memories of their dad.
"But their lasting memories will be of him as a dad before being a footballer, and our thoughts are just with them at the moment.
"It would be brilliant and fitting if the name carried on at the club.
"My dad died recently at 67 and I thought that was young, but 43 is just unthinkable.
"From someone who has suffered recently I know how his family will be feeling."
But Tony does not think the sad new will adversely affect the performance of the side in the first home game of the season.
He says:
"Les was a football man and he will want the boys to put it out of their minds for the game and get a result against Leeds United.
"Perhaps a win would be a fitting tribute to him and all he has done at West Ham."