TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular youth football coach whose love for the game meant all players got a chance to improve, regardless of their ability.

Gary Else, 52, died peacefully at his home in Highworth on April 18.

He was a well-known figure at New College, where he was known for his competitiveness, fairness and consummate attention to detail in building winning teams.

He inherited his passion for the game from his father Fred, a professional footballer who played for Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End and England B.

Away from his day job as a business development manager, Gary helped scores of local youngsters rise though the local leagues.

The football fanatic also managed the former Highworth Juniors, where his son Jonathan played, coaching them until they reached 16.

His widow Sue, 52, said: “Gary saw youth football as a chance to develop all the children, not just the ones who excelled.

“He made sure every child in the team got an opportunity to play, even if it meant taking off the more talented players.

“He was a quiet chap but he knew everybody and he was absolutely fanatical about football.”

The Else footballing tradition is being continued by Jonathan, 22, who progressed to the Swindon Town Centre of Excellence and now plays for Cirencester.

Gary was also a committee member on the South West Counties Youth League and helped organise the Highworth summer six-a-side tournament.

Paul Smith, a sports lecturer at New College, praised his seven-year contribution to the Academy, which ended in 2010.

He said: “Gary was very supportive of the coaches and was very keen to improve every player.

“He was very competitive. He made it very clear that he didn’t like losing matches.”

Gary had a meticulous eye for detail and knew every detail of local and national football which he passed on to players moving up the league ladder.

He kept spreadsheets showing every facet of all the games he managed, including team-sheets, subs, scores, officials, costs and even the number of minutes each player spent on the pitch.

But he balanced his eye for detail and competitiveness with a sense of fairness which earnt him the respect of his players.

“The legacy of Gary’s work will continue long into the future and all who have met him through football are honoured to have spent many hours in the company of a special man,” Paul said.

“His spirit and commitment will live long in our memories.”

Gary who, away from football, was a committed family man, is also survived by his daughters Kayleigh, 23, and Rachel, 24 His funeral took place last Wednesday.