Former Arsenal youth player Samuel Oji has tragically passed away aged 35.
His current club, non-league Highgate United, tweeted: “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 Oj.”
London-born Oji grew up in the Arsenal academy before signing his first professional contract with Birmingham City in 2004.
He spent four years at the Blues whilst also enjoying loan spells at Doncaster Rovers, Bristol Rovers and Leyton Orient before joining the O’s permanently in 2008.
Oji spent time with Limerick and Galway in Ireland as well as spells with Tamworth, Worcester City and Hednesford Town in non-league before joining Highgate United in 2018.
A statement on Friday night read: “There has been various comments posted across social media throughout the day with regards the welfare of Samuel Oji. Sam is extremely ill but still fighting like the warrior that he is.
“We would like people to respect the privacy of his family and close friends at this very difficult time. The club will release further details in due course. Can we ask all to refrain from posting any further comments. Thank you.”
Tributes have poured in for Oji from around the world of football.
( Image: BPM)
Former Aston Villa and England star Lee Hendrie tweeted: “So sad to hear the news about the big man @SamuelOji_24.
“One of the nicest guys you meet on and off the pitch. Thinking of the family. Gone far to soon. R.I.P big man.”
Former club Limerick FC wrote: “Tragic news this morning as former Limerick F.C player Samuel Oji has passed away.
“Signed under Stuart Taylor, Sam was an outstanding player and more importantly, an outstanding person.
“Sincere condolences from all at the club go to his family, friends and loved ones. RIP.”
( Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer)
Leyton Orient tweeted: “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 .Rest in peace, Sam.”
Birmingham City added: “The Club is devastated to hear of the passing of former player Sam Oji, aged 35.
” The thoughts of everyone at #BCFC are with Sam’s family and friends at this extremely difficult time.”