West Ham United have sadly announced that striker Dylan Tombides has died at the young age of 20 from testicular cancer, an illness the youngster bravely battled since first being diagnosed in the summer of 2011. It was thought that Dylan had won his fight against the cancer; after months of surgery and chemotherapy, he made an appearance against Wigan Athletic in a League Cup tie in September 2012. But tragically, the highly respected youngster suffered a relapse and wasn't able to recover a second time.
Australian-born Dylan was a striker of Greek descent who played youth-team football in both his home country and Hong Kong before joining West Ham at the age of 15. A regular in the reserve team, he was a substitute against Sunderland in 2011 and, after being diagnosed with cancer, he fought back with such astonishing resilience that he was able to come on as a substitute in a League Cup tie against Wigan just a year later. At just over 6 feet tall (1.84 meters), Dylan certainly had the build and the skill to be a top striker, and West Ham had very high expectations for the lad. During his time away from the pitch, Dylan did some sterling work in trying to raise awareness of male cancer, and he has been a familiar face at many events supporting One For The Boys, a campaign that was set up to alert men to the dangers of male cancer. The organization has been highlighted by the profile of some of the people involved, including actor Samuel L. Jackson and snooker legend Jimmy White. In fact, Dylan had appeared with both men at recent events. He was also a regular at the training ground, where he gave his support to the squad.
I'd mentioned Dylan in a blog earlier this week but decided to pull the reference when I was unable to discover if rumours about a relapse were true or not. Sadly, the situation was much worse than I realised, and this news has come as a huge shock to everyone associated with the club.
Needless to say, our thoughts are with Dylan's family and friends. A minute's silence will be held at Upton Park before this weekend's game against Crystal Palace, and I'm sure all Hammers everywhere will be thinking of Dylan and the cruel disease that took him at such an early age. RIP Dylan.