A six-year-old boy who had been suffering from cancer and developed a special relationship with Leeds United has died just days after his birthday.
Toby Nye had high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer, which spreads rapidly across the body.
Stars from the club have paid tribute to the youngster and said they were “heartbroken”.
Chairman Andrea Radrizzani said he had been “deeply moved” by Toby’s story, adding, “we love you angel”.
Toby, from Osmondthorpe, Leeds, became ill at Christmas 2016 and on his fourth birthday in January 2017 his family was told he had a stage four neuroblastoma tumour.
He had struck up relationships with several players and staff at Elland Road. Last year the club raised the £200,000 needed to fund his cancer treatment.
Tributes have poured in since news of his death emerged. A statement said he died “in the arms of mummy and daddy” at home with all his family around him on Saturday afternoon.
Leeds captain Liam Cooper, who once carried Toby on to the pitch at Elland Road, said on Twitter he was “heartbroken to hear that my little mate has peacefully passed”.
“I will forever cherish the moments we spent together. Heaven has gained a beautiful angel. Your smile will live with me forever. Sleep tight little man I love you.”
What is neuroblastoma?
- It is a rare type of cancer that mostly affects babies and young children
- It develops from specialised nerve cells (neuroblasts) left behind from a baby’s development in the womb
- It affects about 100 children each year in the UK
- The cause is unknown
- In very rare cases children in the same family can be affected, but generally neuroblastoma does not run in families
Source: NHS Choices
Writing on the Facebook page set up for him, Toby’s Fight With Neuroblastoma, his family said: “This is a status that I never thought I’d have to write, our little warrior passed away yesterday at 13.45 he was at home in the arms of Mummy and Daddy with his big brother Ollie, his baby Sister Sienna & all his family around him.
“He fought so hard right to the end, he wasn’t in any pain and he was peaceful.”
Doctors had told Toby he would need intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well as an operation to remove the main tumour on his kidney.
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His treatment was unsuccessful and his family wanted to raise money to fund private care.
Leeds United announced last October that it would raise the money as the treatment was not routinely available on the NHS.