Former Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson has died after he was Tasered by police.
The 48-year-old, who was named locally as Atkinson, died around 90 minutes after he was hit by a stun gun in Meadow Close in the Trench area of Telford, Shropshire, at around 1.30am on Monday.
A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “I had known him since he was a little boy, he was a famous footballer at one time. He was friendly, he had no trouble that I know of.”
West Mercia Police said officers were called amid concerns “for the safety of an individual” and deployed Taser.
This follows the death in June of ex-soldier Spencer Beynon, who was Tasered by police in Llanelli, South Wales, after stabbing a dog and then himself.
One of Atkinson’s former clubs Ipswich tweeted from the club’s official account: “Terribly sad news about our former striker. Our thoughts are with Dalian’s family and friends at this tragic time.”
Forensic officers were at the scene on Monday as Meadow Close remained cordoned off.
Neighbours took to Facebook to express their shock, with one describing “a lot of shouting and police”.
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) August 15, 2016
West Mercia Police said in a statement: “Officers responded to a report for the concern for the safety of an individual at approximately 1.30am this morning at an address in Telford.
“Upon arrival, Taser was deployed and a 48-year-old man, who subsequently received medical attention, was pronounced dead at approximately 3am.
“West Mercia Police are unable to comment any further as the incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) as is normal procedure, and will assist the IPCC with their inquiries.”
Last year police use of Tasers, which are intended as a non-lethal weapon, went up slightly towards the end of 2015 with 10,329 uses by forces in England and Wales, a two per cent rise on the previous year.
However, of those, 19 per cent (1,921) were discharges; a decrease of three per cent from the previous year.
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called by West Mercia Police to an address in Meadow Close in the Trench area of Telford at about 1.45am this morning.
“An ambulance was dispatched and upon arrival found a man who had been Tasered.
“As he was being conveyed to Princess Royal Hospital, his condition deteriorated and he went into cardiac arrest.
“Despite the efforts of the crew and hospital staff, it was not possible to save him and he was confirmed dead at hospital, shortly after arrival.”
Atkinson was a top-flight striker in the 1990s, with a goal for league runners-up Aston Villa against Wimbledon which followed a mazy run from inside his own half being voted the 1992-93 goal of the season.
He went on to score at Wembley in 1994 as Villa beat Manchester United to lift the League Cup.
The thoughts of everyone at Wednesday are with the friends and family of Dalian Atkinson this morning. RIP pic.twitter.com/67Z1XloHQ4
— Sheffield Wednesday (@swfc) August 15, 2016
Starting his career at Ipswich, he played for Sheffield Wednesday and Spanish side Real Sociedad before moving to Villa.
He scored more than 20 Premier League goals for the Birmingham side between 1991 and 1995 before going on to play less successfully for teams including Turkish side Fenerbahce and Manchester City.
He ended his playing career playing in South Korea in 2001.
Wednesday tweeted a tribute from their official account which read: “The thoughts of everyone at Wednesday are with the friends and family of Dalian Atkinson this morning. RIP.”
Mr Atkinson’s father, thought to be in his 80s, lives in Meadow Close and the footballer was believed to have been visiting him when police were called.
Neighbours said the retired star, who drives a Porsche, was well-known among people in the street, making frequent visits to the short cul-de-sac.
Speaking at a cordon set up by police to prevent people entering the street, local residents Matthew and Tina Bothwell said they were deeply shocked at Mr Atkinson’s death.
Mr Bothwell, 43, told reporters: “Every time he would come he would have crowds around him. It’s close-knit community.
“I just can’t bear to think what his family are going through.”
Mrs Bothwell added: “He was loving, caring and got on with everybody in the street. He always got on with the kids because they absolutely loved his car.”
Local resident Paula Quinn said Mr Atkinson appeared to be “almost staggering” in the street before he was Tasered.
Miss Quinn, who lives in a first-floor flat above a barber’s shop, claimed Mr Atkinson went down “like a lead balloon” after being hit by the Taser.
The witness added: “I heard shouting and something smashing, which is what alerted me to look out of the window.
“I am feeling a bit sick knowing that the poor lad has passed. I don’t care what anybody has done. Nobody deserves to die as a result of something like that.”