TRIBUTES have been paid to former Coventry Jets coach Gerry McManus who died this week following a short illness.
Gerry played American football for various teams and also represented Great Britain. He coached the Jets between 2005 and 2011, seeing them move up through the championships.
A spokesman for the team said: “We are absolutely devastated to hear of the passing of former Jets coach and Midlands football legend Gerry McManus.
“A much respected person across all of Britball and one who helped us to become a championship winning team.
“Our thoughts and condolences to everyone associated with a truly wonderful man.”
And Leamington personal trainer and American football player Richard Draper expressed his condolences.
He said: “What a great man and a great loss to friends, family and football. So very sad.
“Many game days and nights spent with this gentle giant. Wonderful footballer and outstanding football coach. Will be missed so much.”
He was also a fan of the round ball version of football, and was a life-long Coventry City fan, and also supported Celtic.
The 53 year-old was manager of the Royal Priors shopping centre in Leamington, and played a central role in the life of Leamington town centre over the past two decades.
Friend and colleague Stephanie Kerr, director of BID Leamington, told the Observer: “Gerry was a champion of all things good. He was hugely generous and a team player who believed that when we work together in a town, we all benefit.
“As one of the key instigators of BID Leamington over ten years ago, he served as a board member with passion, positivity and good sense throughout. This was among the things he was very proud of – in his words ‘working to make sure the jewel in Warwickshire’s crown is sparkling’.
“While always proud of his Coventry roots, his passion for Leamington was unbounded and he had that special quality of being someone people loved to work with. As a good friend and colleague he will be always remembered and greatly missed.”
Staff at the Royal Priors have been left devastated by Gerry’s passing.
A spokesman said: “Gerry was a fantastic presence in the centre and he brought his wealth of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to his job every day. He was a hugely popular, much-loved and well-respected figure across the Leamington community and will be sorely missed.”
Kelly Iles, owner of Spangles American Diner – previously based in the Priors and now at Fargo Village – spoke of her shock.
She said: “Spangles would never of been created or existed had it not been for this man. He took a risk on the little independent nobody that was me, helped me start my diner, my dream and vision, believed in me and let me bend the rules a bit but not too much and guided me in business.
“Sometimes in life paths cross for a reason. Today I lost a true true friend and the world lost a truly great man. He has left a hole which will never be filled.”
Gerry, who passed away on Monday, is survived by his wife and two children.
A social media page has been set up for those who wish to pay tribute to Gerry. Search Remembering Gerry McManus on Facebook to find out more.