Kevin Ball leads tributes to Sunderland AFC's award-winning media boss Louise Wanless after her death aged 52
Sunderland AFC has led the way in paying tribute to its media and communication’s boss Louise Wanless following her death.
Former captain Kevin Ball has joined the club in speaking of their sadness after the 52-year-old’s passing, saying it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the passing of their friend and colleague.
Louise joined the club from Middlesbrough FC in 2003 and spent more than 16 years overseeing its media and communications department.
The club has said she was a “hugely popular and well-respected figure within the game, she was held in immense regard by all at SAFC and served the club with unwavering dedication, an unrivalled work ethic and a fierce determination.”
Named after one of the North East’s most popular and respected football writers, the title is presented by the committee to someone who has made a substantial impact on football in the region.
In winning the award, she followed in the footsteps of former Sunderland player, manager and chairman Niall Quinn, George Baker, former Newcastle United and England manager Sir Bobby Robson, John Pickering and World Cup winner, the late Jack Charlton.
SAFC’s former club captain, Kevin Ball, said: “We are devastated to learn of Louise’s passing.
"She was an extremely special person, and a valued friend, who dedicated her life to football and to Sunderland AFC
"Louise had a real knack with people, always coming up with the right answer at the right time and knowing what to say and when.
"From players and staff to members of the press, and all those that were fortunate enough to meet or work with Louise, she was not just an esteemed colleague, but a true friend.
"She will be deeply missed by all at the Stadium of Light and many more within the game.”
The club added that all within its community send their heartfelt condolences to Louise’s family and friends.
The Echo’s Sunderland AFC writer Phil Smith has been among those to offer words of tribute to her.
He said: “Lou was a wonderful person who loved SAFC so, so much.
“She always had a great story, and an even better hug.
“So many will miss her. Thinking of her family and friends.
Middlesbrough FC has also offered its condolences and said: “We’re saddened to learn of the passing of our friend and former colleague Louise Wanless.
"Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.”