TRIBUTES have been paid to a talented 23-year-old Blandford football player who died in a road accident on Sunday morning.

Daniel Jones, who received fatal injuries when his blue and white Suzuki motorcycle was in collision with a car on the A356 at Maiden Newton, was in his third year as a defender for AFC Blandford.

Player of the year, Dan was due to collect his trophy at the end of season dinner and dance on Saturday, June 1.

“He won it by a mile,” said manager Brian Thorne, who had known him for two years. “It was very easy to see he was a very talented player. He played centre back or centre midfield and made the game look easy at times.

“He captained the team on a couple of occasions and was being brought on to take on the captaincy in coming seasons. Technically he was the best player at our club and was good enough to play at a higher level of football.

“Off the pitch he was a lovely, funny guy and I and his family and friends will miss him dreadfully.”

Shocked friends left flowers and tributes at the scene of the accident, which took place at the junction with Toller Lane.

“Forever in our hearts”, “One of the nicest guys I have ever met”, “Missed by so many people but never forgotten” were among heartfelt tributes on bouquets.

Known for his love of Nando's restaurant, “Joner” worked for his dad at Blandford Heights MOT and Service Centre.

“He was always having a laugh and a joke,” said football club secretary Jason Gulbins. “He was just Jack the lad. He was always making people laugh.”

He said they had considered cancelling the end of season celebration but had decided to go ahead in his honour.

The annual tournament to be held on June 24 will be a memorial game for Dan and the club has retired his number four shirt.

The driver of the Skoda car, a 75-year-old woman, and her 78 year-old husband from Crewkerne, both suffered serious injuries and were taken to Dorset County Hospital.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the collision, and the manner in which both vehicles were being driven prior to the accident, to contact PC Edge of the Weymouth traffic division on 101.