Emotional tributes have been paid to a former Aston Villa physio “worth his weight in gold” who died after a short and aggressive battle with stomach cancer.
Dean Madden served at Bodymoor Heath for more than 20 years after initially starting out as a first-team masseur under John Gregory in early 2001.
He became academy physio in 2006, where he’d remain as he worked with some of the club’s biggest talents, from Jack Grealish to Jacob Ramsey.
Dean, who fell ill at the back-end of last year, passed away on August 10, with his funeral having since taken place on Tuesday (August 31).
A fund-raising page was set up just last week which has raised well over £3,000 as donations continue to flood in from friends, family and those at Villa who worked with Dean, including donations from ex-Villa captain Tommy Elphick, academy manager Mark Harrison and youngsters Tyreik Wright, Cameron Archer and the Ramsey brothers, as well as former Villa academy player Callum Robinson who is now at West Brom.
Dean’s brother, Scott, posted: “So proud to have Dean as my big broski, breaks my heart every single day, miss you always bro.”
Ex school pal Craig Munn said: “So shocked and saddened by this, good memories from school, r.i.p Dean god bless.”
Another added: “Biggest true gent you will ever meet.”
Former Villa academy defender Joe Linley commented: “Such sad news, Dean was one of nicest people I’ve worked with in the game, who had a unique bond with the players, he oversaw my rehab and helped me get back fit after a long term injury. Such a great physio but even better person. RIP Dean.”
While one-time Villan Harvey Knibbs added: “Deano was a top physio and a even better guy, he had a special relationship with all players and staff who worked with him.”
Dean studied physiotherapy and gained a Masters at Coventry University before becoming a physical training instructor in the Army. Afterwards, he spent time as a fitness and gym manager at Birmingham City Council before taking up his initial role at Villa before lecturing a sports massage course at Sutton Coldfield college.
Louie Hart, who’s organised Dean’s donation page, said: “Anyone who knows Deano knows he took his work as a physio at Aston Villa seriously and any kid who he worked with was well looked after like his own.
“He was an amazing bloke and well liked by players, parents and staff.
“His wife Theresa was by his side throughout it all and gave up everything to care for him.
“Deano was worth his weight in gold and we’d love to be able to take the stress away from Theresa and the family at this horrific time. Anything you can donate, no matter how big or small, will really mean a lot.”
St Giles Hospice in Lichfield cared for Dean during his final days with a series of fundraising events now planned, including a 100km bike ride in Dean’s memory.
You can donate to Dean’s JustGiving page HERE.