Man denies murder of footballer hit by van on Christmas night out in Ilkeston

Samuel Wilson, from Long Eaton, died after he was struck by a van. Credit: PA

A man has denied murdering a "talented and loving" footballer who was hit by a van on a Christmas night out with his teammates.

Samuel Wilson was struck by a van along with two other men in the early hours of 16 December, and died at the scene in Ilkeston.

The 26-year-old, from Long Eaton, was out for his football team’s annual Christmas celebration when he was hit.

The other injured men were treated in hospital and have since recovered.

Zac Newman, 27, pleaded not guilty to murder when he appeared via video link at Derby Crown Court on Tuesday.

Newman, of The Crescent, Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, also denied wounding with intent and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent.

He is expected to face a trial on 10 June, with a pre-trial hearing set for 24 May.

Samuel Wilson was struck by a van in Market Place, Ilkeston. Credit: Ashley Kirk

Mr Wilson was described as “talented, loving and handsome” by his family.

In a tribute released after his death, they said: “Samuel William Wilson, also known as Willow to his mates, tragically died while out for his football team’s annual Christmas celebration.

“Sam, our talented number 12 team player, did not have one bad bone in his body. He had a kind, caring, gentle nature which was something everyone loved about him.

“He genuinely lit up every room with his infectious cheeky smile and witty sense of humour – a true gent with a heart of gold."

The tribute added that Mr Wilson was a keen Derby County supporter – rarely ever missing a game.

“Sam and his girlfriend were inseparable, true soulmates, with their whole lives and future ahead of them," the family added.

“He loved his two nieces and they will always know about their uncle ‘Moonhead’, as his oldest niece would call him, as he will always be talked about by his family and friends.

“He was the best son, brother, nephew, grandson, cousin, friend and boyfriend to all that had the pleasure of being a part of his life."

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