Gareth Southgate leads tributes to Captain Sir Tom Moore

Nick Purewal, PA

England manager Gareth Southgate has hailed Captain Sir Tom Moore for uniting the country “in a way that few ever could” as Wembley Stadium was lit up in tribute.

Sir Tom died on Tuesday with coronavirus, aged 100 and after raising almost £33million for the NHS during the pandemic.

The Army veteran walked 100 laps of his Marston Moretaine garden during 2020’s first lockdown, and his fund-raising efforts snowballed due to global attention.

England manager Southgate and the Football Association have moved to pay their respects to Sir Tom, with the Wembley arch lit up red and white and a message displayed at the stadium.

“Captain Sir Tom Moore demonstrated the very best of England during an extremely difficult time for the nation,” said Southgate.

“It is no exaggeration to say he helped bring the country together in a way that few ever could, and he leaves a legacy that will never be forgotten.

“I was especially struck by his dedication to going above and beyond with his personal challenge, his relentless positivity and his good humour.”

Sir Tom was knighted by the Queen at a special Windsor Castle ceremony in July.

David Beckham visited him in July to make the fund-raising star the first member of the FA’s Lionhearts squad – to celebrate those going above and beyond the call of community duty during the pandemic.

England boss Southgate insisted Sir Tom’s legacy will endure, amid floods of tributes for the hugely-popular figure.

“It was a wonderful moment to see him chosen to lead the FA’s Lionhearts squad celebrating 23 individuals who had done so much to help others this past year – one of many deserved honours that came his way,” said Southgate.

“He will be missed, but we will remember him.”

England captains past and present also paid their respects.

Current skipper Harry Kane said: “Very sad to hear this news as he was an inspirational man who did so much for others. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

Beckham wrote: “Today we have lost a true hero, Captain Sir Tom Moore. What he achieved for our NHS will never be forgotten.

“Tom, you were truly the very best of British. When our country and our world was struggling you gave us hope, put a smile on our faces and made us believe that tomorrow would be a good day. Rest in Peace Sir Tom.”

Gary Lineker tweeted: “How terribly sad: Captain Sir Tom Moore has passed away.

“What an extraordinary life, with the most wonderful finale over the last year. A National treasure and a hero. RIP.”

Britain’s seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton paid his own tribute to Cpt Sir Tom on social media.

“I am so saddened to hear of the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore,” Hamilton tweeted.

“He was an inspiration to the entire country, and I am honoured to have had the opportunity to be able to tell him how in awe of him I was.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family today, as well as everyone who has lost a loved one to coronavirus.

“Captain Sir Tom Moore was a true hero and we will never forget the incredible man who brought out the best of us at such a difficult time. RIP Captain Sir Tom.”

Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford also joined the growing voices in tribute to the late Army veteran.

“You have inspired generation after generation with your kindness, your perseverance and your strength,” Rashford tweeted.

“You fought for others until the very end.

“A role model to so many at a time of such difficulty, your legacy will live on for years to come.

“Thank you for being a shining light of 2020.

“Rest in peace Captain Tom. My thoughts are very much with your loved ones.”

England cricket captain Joe Root also paid tribute on behalf of the England team ahead of the Test series in India.

He said: “It is really sad news. I am sure his family will be extremely proud of his legacy he leaves behind. He gave the whole nation something to smile about in a dark time. All the great things he did for the NHS.

“On behalf of the whole England team we want to send our thoughts to his family. He will be sadly missed.”

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