Sports fans around Australia are in shock following the sudden death of NRL legend Lance Thompson. The athlete, who played for the St George Illawarra Dragons and Cronulla Sharks between 1995 and 2008, was reportedly found dead in his Cronulla apartment by his 17-year-old-daughter. He was just 40 years old.
In a statement issued by NRL, police were called to Thompson’s home around 9pm after receiving calls about a man’s welfare. The death is not being treated as suspicious, although a report is being prepared for the coroner.
Footballers and fans alike have taken to social media to express their shock and sadness at the devastating news.
Keith Galloway, who last played as a prop for the Leeds Rhinos in the Super League, described Thompson as his hero. Sharing a picture of the footballer playing for St George, he shared a touching tribute.
He wrote: “Very sad to hear the passing of Lance Thompson overnight, one of my childhood favourites and a local hero who I looked up to and was lucky enough to get to know over the years, champion bloke and player. Rest In Peace Mate!”
Footy star Martin Lang was also shocked by the news and described Thompson as “a genuinely good guy”, admitting he was always a tough opponent in the game.
My thoughts go out to Lance Thompson’s family and friends. This is awful. A genuinely good guy and a wholehearted, tough opponent.
— Martin Lang (@Martin_Lang11) August 23, 2018
Meanwhile, sports commentator Andrew Voss struggled to find words to describe how he was feeling.
“I am absolutely numb at the news of Lance Thompson passing away,” he wrote. “If you watched Lance on The Fan this year, you would appreciate what a genuine & hard working man he was. Shattered for his family. He proved you don’t need to have won GF’s or played for your country to be a champion.”
I am absolutely numb at the news of Lance Thompson passing away.If you watchedLance on The Fan this year,you would appreciate what a genuine & hard working man he was. Shattered for his family.He proved you dont need to have won GF's or played for your country to be a champion.
— Andrew Voss (@AndrewVossy) August 23, 2018
Meanwhile, an array of other football greats payed their respects to their fallen mate.
Can't believe the news about Thommo. One of the best players to play with and a great man away from the field! Absolutely lost for words. 😢 RIP brother
— Greg Bird (@Birdman_013) August 23, 2018
Terribly sad news of Lance Thompson’s passing. Had a beer with him last Thursday. My god! RIP Thommo. Thoughts with his family and friends
— Darryl Brohman (@therealbigmarn) August 23, 2018
Throughout his football career, Thompson played 201 games for St George before playing three seasons with the Sharks. He began playing football in 1995 as a teenage and was forced to retire because of debilitating pain in his knee.
In more recent times, he ran several restaurants.