Spanish former footballer Santiago Cañizares has confirmed that his five-year-old son, Santi, has lost an 18 month-long battle against a serious illness.
"He has left us surrounded by peace"
"My son Santi has died," Cañizares said in a statement on social media on Friday. "I felt it should be me who let you all know, as a token of my appreciation for all the displays of support and love that I've received from you.
"He has left us surrounded by peace, and having understood his mission in these five years that he has accompanied us," added the former Spain international, whose clubs included Real Madrid, Celta Vigo and Valencia.
Mi hijo Santi ha fallecido.— SANTIAGO CAÑIZARES (@santicanizares) March 23, 2018
Creo que he de ser yo quien os lo cuente, en agradecimiento por todas las muestras de apoyo y cariño que he recibido de vosotros.
Se ha marchado rodeado de paz, y habiendo comprendido su misión en estos cinco años que nos ha acompañado.#santicampeon
Cañizares' wife, Mayte García, also paid tribute to Santi, one of three children born to the couple, in a moving online post. "My love, my life, my angel, thank you for everything you have taught me and for the peace you have given me," she said.
"I will live and breathe for you. With you always. I LOVE YOU."
Condolences pour in from across Spanish game
Following the news, Cañizares' first club, Real, tweeted: "Real Madrid C.F. is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of @santicanizares' son, Santi, and extends its most sincere condolences to his family and friends."
Real Madrid C.F. is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of @santicanizares' son, Santi, and extends its most sincere condolences to his family and friends.— Real Madrid C.F.🇺🇸🇬🇧 (@realmadriden) 23 March 2018
Meanwhile, Valencia said: "On behalf of everyone associated with Valencia CF, we would like to send our condolences and support to @santicanizares and his family for their tragic loss."
"LaLiga share their condolences with @santicanizares and his family following the loss of his son," wrote Spanish professional league football's governing body, whose president, Javier Tebas, said the sad news "has left a hole in my heart".