Popular footballer killed in car crash

Enrik Rrukaj
Enrik Rrukaj

A KEEN footballer and boxer has tragically died in a car crash, aged just 19.

Enrik Rrukaj, a former pupil from The Grove, who played football for East Sussex League champions St Leonards Social and was a member of West Hill Boxing Club, was travelling on the A21 near Tonbridge, Kent, when the accident happened.

Tributes have poured in from family and friends and flowers have been placed beside the statue of the cricketer in Priory Meadow as a mark of respect.

Mr Rrukaj’s family issued a statement this week.

They said: “Enrik was a lovely young man with a big future ahead of him. He was kind-hearted and generous towards everyone and a very loved person. He loved his family, friends and girlfriend lots as well as his boxing and football.”

His family added that Mr Rrukaj “loved life with all his heart” and was an Arsenal supporter.

“Enrik lived a happy life and has left behind lots of happy memories of all his achievements,” his family said.

Mr Rrukaj, who grew up in Hollington, St Leonards, recently moved to Turkey Road in Sidley, Bexhill.

He played football for reigning East Sussex League champions St Leonards Social for the past two seasons.

Charles Amstad, chairman, said the club was “deeply saddened” by Mr Rrukaj’s death.

He said: “Enrik had an absolutely brilliant future ahead of him. He was absolutely committed, honest, true to everything he did, and that’s on and off the field. He always aspired to be the best.

“He really had a true love for life and an absolute passion for football, but more importantly he had a love for other people.”

Mr Rrukaj was a member of West Hill Boxing Club for three years until 2009.

Dave Bishop, the club’s head coach, said: “You couldn’t meet a nicer lad. Enrik didn’t have a bad bone in his body and we were just proud to have him as part of our gym. It’s a shock to the system and so sad.”

The crash happened last Monday (April 4) just before 1.30am near Tonbridge on the southbound carriageway by the Fairthorne garage near the North Farm roundabout.

It involved two cars, a green Suzuki Baleno and a green Toyota Previa.

Mr Rrukaj was transferred to hospital in Middlesex where he died of his injuries.

Kent Police is carrying out an investigation.

Anyone who saw the collision, or who may have seen the cars, and/or an articulated HGV in the area at the time, should ring 01622 798538.