Graduates of Oxford City Football Club’s education programme and wider members of the football community have paid tribute to the late Mickey Lewis.
Mickey, or ‘Mad Dog’ as he was affectionately known by thousands of fans nationwide, passed following a short illness and leaves behind wife Suzanne and son Zach.
His death rocked the football community and tributes flooded social media in memory of the much-loved former midfielder who captured the hearts of everyone he worked with.
In his later years, Mickey dedicated his time to developing young people’s skills on and off the pitch via Velocity Football.
The lessons he has passed onto the younger generation has inspired careers across all sectors in sport, with some students going on to fulfil their dreams of becoming professional players and coaches.
One student who worked closely with Mickey to establish a pathway into Oxford City FC’s first team was Udoka Godwin-Malife, who now plays for Forest Green Rovers in League Two.
Udoka said: “Mickey was an exceptional coach and person, and I was devastated to learn of his passing.
“Mickey took interest in every student’s development and would be there for anyone that needed his help and support – that’s what made him special to me. You could tell he loved his role by his passion, enthusiasm and commitment to the game – that I will never forget.
“He taught valuable lessons to apply on and off the pitch that I still adhere to this day. Football and life is a fight and you have to be willing to work hard to achieve your dreams. With Mickey’s support and encouragement, I achieved my dream.
“Mickey respected every person he worked with and my thoughts are with his wife Suzanne and son Zach. Rest in peace Mickey, god bless.”
Current Oxford City FC assistant manager Andy Ballard, who worked closely with Mickey as both a player and a coach, added: “Mickey was the single biggest influence in my footballing career.
“His help, advice and guidance shaped me not only as a footballer and coach but also as a person.
“I owe a great deal to him for not only being a fantastic coach but also a figure that I looked to for personal advice. He will be sorely missed by myself, my family and everyone that knew him.”
Des Buckingham, first team coach at Melbourne City, also paid his respects.
He said: “Mickey was a father figure to me and helped shape the lives and character of so many people who were fortunate to cross his path.
“His relentless enthusiasm, genuine care, and always putting others before himself are some of the reasons he was not only a great football person but a wonderful man.
“A heart-breaking loss of a friend, mentor and family man, and my thoughts are with his wife Suzanne and young son Zach.”
Experienced football manager Chris Wilder, who worked with Mickey during his time at Oxford United led tributes nationally.
Wilder told Sky Sports: “I am absolutely heartbroken. He was a brilliant coach but also brilliant company.
“We remained great friends and it was an honour to know him. It has happened so quickly and someone who loved life and loved football will be a massive miss to everyone who knew him.
“My thoughts are with Suzy, Zach and the family at this incredibly sad moment.”
Former Oxford United manager Brian Horton, who was instrumental in bringing Lewis to the U’s in the late 80s, added: “So sad to hear about the passing of Mickey Lewis. I am absolutely devastated that he has left us at such a young age.
“Mark Lawrenson and I signed Mickey from Derby County in 1988 and he went on to play 350 games. He was a fantastic person and player. RIP.”
Sports broadcaster Jim Rosenthal told the Oxford Mail: “Whenever Micky saw you he always had that smile on his face and a big handshake.
“He was one of those people that you were always pleased to see whenever he walked into a room.
“If there was a turning point in Oxford United’s history it was getting back into the Football League (in 2010) and Micky played a big role in that. He was a man of Oxford.”
A GoFundMe page has been published this week to help secure the future of Mickey’s family following his passing.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so by visiting: Fundraiser by Mickey Lewis Memorial Fund : Mickey Lewis Memorial Fund (gofundme.com)