FORMER Brewers player Karl Payne has passed away at the age of 44 whilst taking part in a charity bike ride.
Karl made 133 first team appearances for Burton Albion after joining the club as a teenager.
He was a Brewers player from the 1991-92 season to the 1996-97 season.
Former Brewers manager John Barton said: "He was at the club when I took over and what struck me was him as a person, a character. He seemed so honest and sincere, not only about how he played but went about any duties. He was very genuine and his performances on the pitch reflected those characteristics.
"I remember one game in particular when Rushden and Diamonds were riding high and were the team to beat. It was the second or third home game of the season we played them at Eton Park and we were concerned we maybe on the receiving end but we won 4-2 that night. We played Karl up front down the middle and they had a team on non-league internationals but he was absolutely outstanding and if you ask any of the defenders who played against him they were glad to hear the final whistle. He absolutely ran them ragged. That was right up there while I was manager and that performance reflected him totally in terms of his personal characteristics and disciplines. He was the perfect person to manage.
"He was a local lad who got the opportunity to play for his local non-league club and he never let you down in terms of his attitude and application."
A team mate at the time was Allan Davies.
He said: “I was very sad to hear about Karl. I met him when I was 14 as we both played for the Staffordshire county side and we have known each other since - for the best part of 30 years.
“He was a fun guy who never seemed to take life too seriously. He as was always good to be around.
“He was one of those players that I’m not sure we knew what he was going to do a lot of the time so the opposition had no chance. He was really tricky to play against. He never stopped running and I’m sure he was hard to play against because he would never give up or stop trying.
"I think one of the biggest joys for him was being able to play for his home town team.
“Whenever I have seen him since our Burton Albion days he has always had a smile on his face.”
Matt Brown, was part of the Burton Albion backroom team in the 1990s as he is today.
He said: “Karl was down to earth and grounded, a local lad who was the life and soul of the party.
“He and his family were very much part of the Burton Albion family and he will be greatly missed.
“He was a pacey winger, a local lad who was a pleasure to have around.
“He had an incident on the pitch at Eton Park where he swallowed his tongue and I had to go on to give him treatment. Every time I saw him after that he thanked me for saving his life – he never forgot.
“It’s hard to take that he’s gone as he was such a nice lad.”
Karl was also a charity fund-raiser and had been riding from Stoke to Llangollen in Wales and back when he collapsed by the roadside.
He was also involved in playing and coaching for Gresley, Stapenhill, Rocester and Mickleover Sports amongst others over his football career.
Everyone at Burton Albion sends deepest sympathies to Karl's family and friends.