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Tributes to 'loving' police officer Rhys Kelleher who has died from cancer aged 28

Rhys Kelleher's family have paid tribute to him Credit: Family photo

The family of a Gwent police officer and former Cardiff City academy player have paid tribute to "a loyal son, brother and friend."

Rhys Kelleher died of cancer at Velindre hospital on Wednesday 21st August.

The 28 year-old from Treharris in south Wales was a talented midfielder, who developed through the academy system at Cardiff City and represented the club at under 21 level.

He was chosen to represent Wales in under 19's which his family said he was "thrilled about."

Rhys Kelleher worked as a police officer for Gwent Police Credit: Family photo

He later studied Criminology at the University of South Wales where he achieved a 2:1. His family said he represented the university in football and was chosen to represent Wales Universities for home nations tournaments in 2010 and 2012.

More recently, up until his cancer diagnosis, Rhys worked as a police officer for Gwent Police.

We (his parents and his sister) did not think that he would find a job which he would love as much as football, but when he joined Gwent Police in 2017, he loved being a police constable. Rhys also decided to go back to rugby and joined Penallta RFC, where he played for the second team. We were so proud of him. He was a loving and loyal son, brother and friend and we miss him greatly.

– Family statement

Cardiff City also released a statement describing Rhys as a "a talented footballer with wit and an engaging personality."

Rhys will be missed by his friends, team-mates, coaches and former colleagues at Cardiff City Football Club.We would like to place on record our sincerest condolences to Rhys’ family at this terribly sad time.

– Cardiff City

Geraint Twose, who coached Rhys at Cardiff City academy, sent a touching tribute to the club.

So enthusiastic and passionate about the game, full of energy, dedication and drive to give 100% everyday - an attitude that not just benefited Rhys, but also had a positive influence on his teammates around him.

Whatever Rhys chose to do in life he would make it a success, that was just his character - do it well or don’t do it at all - and that never changed. He never stopped fighting and never stopped believing he wouldn’t beat his illness.

– Geraint Twose