A football fan who was imprisoned for leaping onto the pitch and hitting Jack Grealish has died at the age of 32.
Tributes have poured in for Paul Mitchell, leaving his mother, Debbie Drew, saddened at the loss of her son. Mitchell was found deceased at an address in Birmingham, according to reports.
Mitchell served four weeks of his sentence after pleading guilty to assault and to storming the pitch after admitting he had done it “as a joke”. As part of his punishment, he was also barred from attending football events for ten years.
“Our family loved him so much,” his mum Debbie Drew said. A number of fellow football fans have shared tributes to Mitchell on social media. Messages came from Birmingham City fans as well as supporters of other clubs.
“Paul absolutely adored his three children,” the late football fan’s cousin Lucy Mitchell told The Sun. “He always had a smile on his face no matter what. He had the kindest heart. He is sadly going to be missed by a lot of people.
Other fans called him a “legend” and shared messages of support. “Absolutely gutted mate.. we had some mad childhood memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.. rest easy one of my best old friends mate…till we meet again KRO,” friend Ash Herbert wrote on Facebook.
“Rip Paul Mitchell, football is everything, sad to see a fellow football fan taken so soon,” one wrote. Another said: “I’ve been busy all day and on and off twitter so I’ve only just heard about Paul Mitchell a Brummie boy and legend I tell you it’s such a s*** time for blues but he was a good lad RIP Paul.”
Mitchell was sentenced again in 2022 for violating his football ban, according to the Birmingham Mail at the time. During Birmingham City’s Championship match against West Brom, he was part in an ecstatic celebration.
Mitchell had been taking a crippled buddy to Birmingham’s St Andrew’s Stadium, according to his lawyer. It came after he had followed the prohibition order for three years.
“Never nice to hear of anyone passing,” one Aston Villa fan wrote in response to the news. “He was someone’s Son, Father, Brother, Friend ,Work Colleague be nice fellow Villa fans no need for vile comments.”
Other fans who knew Mitchell shared photos of them together. “FFS another lad gone. RIP Paul Mitchell just 32 years old,” one fan wrote. “Some things are bigger than football. RIP lad,” said another.
“Many things outweigh football. Nothing outweighs life” another message of condolence read. “Whilst he probably wasn’t everyone’s cuppa, I hope he’s left to rest in peace and offer my sincere condolences to his family.”
Another fan made reference to the death of another Birmingham fan, Gary Williams, while paying tribute. “We all get caught up in emotions and do things we regret,” they wrote. “He made the mistake of being too passionate and paid for it. Now let the rest of his life , minus that mad five minutes , be celebrated. RIP son… wing your way to the roof of the main stand and sit beside Gaz Williams another true blue lost this week.”
Fans of various clubs have been paying tribute
“Rivalry aside, he’s way to young to go, RIP Paul, rest easy,” one Aston Villa fan wrote. Others shared their condolences and offered messages of support to his family.
Fans from across the country shared their own messages of support. “Someone’s lad and someone’s dad, no age and very sad. RIP from a Cov fan,” one wrote, while there were multiple messages from Aston Villa supporters.
“From a villa fan, we all make mistakes,” another fan added. “The was once just a little baby like all of us , nobody deserves to die so young, rest in peace brother.”