WORCESTER City have joined those in paying tribute to their former defender, Sam Oji, who died on Saturday morning.

The ex-Birmingham City defender and Arsenal academy product died following a short illness.

Oji played for a year at Worcester between 2016-17 before the club dropped down from the National North into the Midland Football League.

A statement from Worcester City read: “We are very sorry to learn of the passing of former player Sam Oji.

“Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family, friends and all that knew this lovely man. RIP Sam.”

City striker Daniel Westwood, who played with the 35-year-old at Highgate United, knew the defender on and off the pitch, having invited him to feature on his non-league football podcast.

“I joined Highgate around the same time he was there,” said Westwood.

“But more so I knew him through the podcast. He was somebody we identified because he has played for so many clubs.

“People always said how much of a gentleman he was, a larger than life character and that’s what shone through when we interviewed him for the podcast.

“He has stories for days, a top guy.”

Whilst Westwood enjoyed his time with Oji, he admits he was “horrible” to play against, referring to his “great passion” for the game.

“I played against him when he was at Hednesford and I was at Stafford and it was a big game.

“In the nicest way possible; he was horrible to play against and a real passion for football. A brilliant defender but he was the type who would shake your hand after - a top man and a real professional.

“It’s awful news.

“It’s shocking, it’s the only word that comes to mind and it makes you puts everything into perspective.

“My condolences and thoughts go out to his family and close friends - at 35 as well, it’s awful.”

City were in action on Saturday against Wolverhampton Casuals and before the game, manager Tim Harris also joined those paying tribute.

“Terribly sad news for everybody who knew him,” said Harris.

“Obviously he has played against some of my sides in the past and always acquitted himself as a professional and a great athlete.

“Some of the comments I have heard, it’s just tragic and my thoughts go out to his family and friends.”