Sunderland AFC pays tribute to long-serving "friend and colleague" Louise Wanless

Sunderland AFC has paid tribute to a long-serving "friend and colleague".

The club announced on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, that it was deeply saddened to learn Louise Wanless, head of media and communications, had died aged 52.

Louise joined the club from Middlesbrough FC in 2003 and spent more than 16 years overseeing the department.

In a statement, the club said: "A hugely popular and well-respected figure within the game, she was held in immense regard by all at SAFC and served the club with unwavering dedication, an unrivalled work ethic and a fierce determination."

Louise’s contribution to football was recognised two years ago when she was presented with the John Fotheringham Award at the 2019 North East Football Writers’ Awards.

'Extremely special person'

SAFC’s former club captain, Kevin Ball, said: “We are devastated to learn of Louise’s passing.

"She was an extremely special person, and a valued friend, who dedicated her life to football and to Sunderland AFC.

"Louise had a real knack with people, always coming up with the right answer at the right time and knowing what to say and when.

"From players and staff to members of the press, and all those that were fortunate enough to meet or work with Louise, she was not just an esteemed colleague, but a true friend.

"She will be deeply missed by all at the Stadium of Light and many more within the game.”

The club added everyone at Sunderland AFC sent their "heartfelt condolences" to Louise’s family and friends.

'Shining light'

The Tyne and Wear Metro also paid tribute, writing on Twitter: "We are deeply saddened to learn that Louise has passed away.

"She was a good friend to Metro and a shining star in our region, whether it was football or rock concerts that had people flocking to the Stadium of Light."

Football clubs including Liverpool and Portsmouth were among many others to send their condolences.