Morecambe defender Christian Mbulu has died aged 23, the League Two side have announced.
It said everyone at the club was “deeply saddened” to learn of his death, expressing their “deepest sympathies to his family and friends at this very sad time”.
The statement on its website continued: “He was only 23 and the news of his sudden and untimely passing has been a shock to us all.
“Christian came to the club in January and proved to be an extremely popular member of the squad. His loss will be painfully felt by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
“The club would ask everyone to respect Christian’s family’s privacy at this sad time.”
Mbulu made three appearances for the club before the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lancashire Police said officers were called to reports of a sudden death at a property in Greenfinch Avenue, Cottam in Preston around 1.30pm on Tuesday, and they are not treating it as suspicious.
Having started his career with non-league Brentwood, the centre-back joined Millwall and had a loan spell at Braintree before joining Scottish Premiership side Motherwell.
He made seven appearances for Crewe Alexandra which said Mbulu will be “sorely missed, because he was a top bloke, who had a real love for the game”.
Motherwell chairman Jim McMahon has echoed those sentiments about their former player.
“He was such a friendly, pleasant young man who we loved having around Fir Park.”
The Professional Footballers’ Association added on Twitter: “Our thoughts are with Christian Mbulu’s family and friends at this very sad time.”