Tributes have been paid to Ian Lavery following the sad passing of Everton's Academy Recruitment Manager after a short illness.
The passionate Evertonian had worked for the Club for more than 20 years and was a hugely-popular figure with staff, colleagues, parents and players.
Everton CEO, Denise Barrett-Baxendale, wrote: "It is difficult to come to terms with the news that our Everton Family has lost our valued colleague, Ian Lavery.
"Ian’s warmth as a person, his passion as an Evertonian and his dedication to his role and to the Academy made him hugely popular.
"He was simply a truly lovely man. The fact I am writing this, following the tragic news of his passing, is very hard to comprehend.
"And I know there will be so many people across the Club feeling the exact same emotions today.
"Of course, the deepest condolences of everybody at the Club go to his wife Lisa and his three wonderful children. I know there are no words that will be able to ease their pain – but I hope they can take some comfort from the knowledge Ian was so admired and respected."
Everton Director of Football, Kevin Thelwell, said: "In Ian Lavery, we have lost one of football’s good guys. He has done so much for so many, and Everton Football Club will be forever grateful.
"We are proud that he was one of our team. He will be greatly missed as a respected colleague, but also as a good friend to so many here. My deepest, heartfelt condolences go to Ian’s wife Lisa and his three children.”
Darren Kearns, who worked with Ian in Everton's Academy Recruitment team for more than 18 years, said: "Ian was our colleague and our friend. Involved in every aspect of recruitment at Everton for more than 20 years, his contribution was immense.
"A true Evertonian whose sole working focus and aim was to help make Everton FC and the First Team the best it can be."
Ray Redmond, a colleague of Ian's in the Academy Recruitment department for 15 years, added: "From day one to the very end, Ian was that mentor and friend we all need in football and in our lives. He was also the most passionate Evertonian!
"Not only did he live the values of the Club, he set them! In the early years of the Academy Ian was part of a team of people who helped shaped the future of the Academy, Club, young players and families.
"His continued commitment to his decades of hard work and love for the Club has left a lasting legacy that all Evertonians should be proud of! A legacy that we will work hard to maintain and build on.
"You was a mentor, my manager and, most importantly, a friend. NSNO 💙."
Everton and our family have lost a true legend 💔💙 NSNO https://t.co/o9cxxu17sl— Morgan Feeney (@Morgan_Feeney13) June 10, 2023
Former Everton Under-21s and current Carlisle United defender Morgan Feeney, who is Ian's nephew, tweeted: "Everton and our family have lost a true legend."
Meanwhile, ex-world cruiserweight boxing champion and Evertonian Tony Bellew tweeted: "My thoughts and prayers are with Ian Lavery’s family and friends today! A brilliant man who had done so much for Everton FC and all the kids who have come through the academy over the last 20 years! Lavo you are going to be missed and never forgotten."
Tributes can be paid to Ian by clicking here.