TRIBUTES have been paid following the death of former League of Ireland footballer Sam Oji, who has passed away at the age of 35.
Oji, a former Limerick FC and Galway United player, had recently been appointed assistant manager of non-league Highgate United after three years there as a player.
The Solihull-based club, which revealed yesterday that Oji was "extremely ill but still fighting like the warrior that he is", confirmed his passing this morning.
All it is with a very heavy heart that I am deeply saddened to inform you, that our beloved Captain, Leader and Legend Samuel Oji has sadly passed away. The thoughts of all at Highgate United FC are with Sam’s wife, children and family at this very sad time.
RIP Oji 💔💔💔💔💔 pic.twitter.com/tayyp5M1vb
— Highgate United FC (@HighgateUnited) August 28, 2021
"All, it is with a very heavy heart that I am deeply saddened to inform you, that our beloved Captain, Leader and Legend Samuel Oji has sadly passed away," the club revealed on Twitter.
"The thoughts of all at Highgate United FC are with Sam's wife, children and family at this very sad time."
Oji, a defender, played youth football at Arsenal before joining Birmingham City.
He had spells with Doncaster, Bristol Rovers, Leyton Orient and Hereford before joining Swedish outfit Ljungskile.
After two seasons back in England with Tamworth, he enjoyed successful spells with Limerick and Galway United.
He then played for Worcester City and Hednesford Town before joining Highgate in 2018.
Former League of Ireland teammates and opponents alike have paid tribute to Oji, with former Galway clubman Conor Barry describing him as "a brilliant character".
Meanwhile Dundalk's Brian Gartland said Oji was "a tough man whenever I played against him but also a gent".
Galway, for whom Oji scored their first goal upon returning to the top fight, described him as "a hugely popular person".
And Treaty United, the club formed following the liquidation of Oji's former side Limerick FC, said Oji was a Limerick “fans’ favourite” during his time in Munster.
Galway United would like to offer our condolences to the family and loved ones of Sam Oji. Sam scored for us in our first game back in the Premier Division in 2015 and was a terrific player in his time at the club. He was a hugely popular person and a gentleman. Rest easy, Sam. pic.twitter.com/3ziDrjd6Wz
— Gaillimh Aontaithe (@GalwayUnitedFC) August 28, 2021
All @TreatyUnitedFC and across football in the Mid West are saddened to learn of the passing of Samuel Oji. Samuel had a spell in Limerick where he became a real fans favourite. Rest in Peace Sam pic.twitter.com/grv9QDqQEP
— Treaty United FC (@TreatyUnitedFC) August 28, 2021
Very sad to hear the news this morning about Sam Oji. A gentleman but also a brilliant character. Very good to us young lads coming through at the time. Rest easy big man ❤️
— Conor Barry (@ConorBarry9) August 28, 2021
My thought and prayers are with the family of Sam Oji after he passed away early this morning. Absolutely heartbreaking 💔 RIP
— Conan Byrne (@conanbyrnecb7) August 28, 2021
heart breaking about Sam Oji.
A tough man whenever I played against him but also a gent. I know he was a great teammate to those who played with him while in the league here.
Deepest condolences to his wife, children and friends.
Life is precious.
— Brian Gartland (@B_Garts) August 28, 2021
— leehendrie77 (@leehendrie77) August 28, 2021
Rip @SamuelOji_24 you will never realise how many hearts this has broken , I’ve had call after call from fully big grown men crying there eyes out cause you wer such a special man , I’ll always remember the good times, rest easy kidda love ya sleeka ♥️😞
— Liam Daly (@LiamDaly1704151) August 28, 2021
Infectious smile, bubbly personality, always friendly and accommodating.
I only got to work with Sam Oji for one season at GUFC, but he left a lasting impression on me and many others.
The news this morning is so terribly sad. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP Sam. pic.twitter.com/181Fx9tb46
— Vinny O'Connor (@VinnyGUFC) August 28, 2021
Former Birmingham, Limerick and Galway defender Sam Oji passed away late last night, aged 35. Very lucky to see him play football, but even luckier to know him on a personal level for a number of years. Infectious personality and just a brilliant human being. RIP, Sammy. pic.twitter.com/yIPsu1uCtu
— Andrew Cunneen (@Cunneen92) August 28, 2021
The Club is devastated to hear of the passing of former player Sam Oji, aged 35.
— Birmingham City FC (@BCFC) August 28, 2021
Saddened to learn of the passing of Sam Oji
A defender with Limerick & Galway United, he will be sadly missed but fondly remembered
RIP 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/0FYEwTjDyh
— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) August 28, 2021
We are very sorry to learn of the passing of former player @SamuelOji_24
Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family, friends and all that knew this lovely man.
RIP Sam ⚽️ https://t.co/XbOqHK13xy
— Worcester City FC (@WorcesterCityFc) August 28, 2021
We're deeply saddened to learn the news that former player Sam Oji has passed away.
Our thought are with Sam's nearest and dearest in this difficult time.
— Leyton Orient (@leytonorientfc) August 28, 2021