Football rocked by sudden death of Arsenal Fan TV cult hero at 58

Claude Callegari, pictured here on Arsenal Fan TV.
Claude Callegari has died at the age of 58. Image: Arsenal Fan TV

The football world is mourning the tragic death of iconic Arsenal fan Claude Callegari at the age of 58.

Callegari was a cult hero in the English Premier League, making regular appearances on Arsenal Fan TV in which he gave passionate speeches about the team and often called for Arsene Wenger's resignation.

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His family confirmed his death on Tuesday, although the cause remains unknown.

“We can’t believe we are writing this, with permission from Claude’s father, it is with great sadness and a broken heart that we have to announce that our dear friend and legend Claude sadly passed away yesterday afternoon, March 29," a statement from Arsenal fans 'Terry and Diesel' read.

“RIP dear friend, gone but never forgotten. Gooner for life.”

A message from Arsenal Fan TV read: "We are absolutely devastated today to learn of the death of Claude Callegari, one of the channel’s most popular contributors.

"Claude was a much loved figure during his time on the channel and through his passion for Arsenal was able to connect with fans from around the globe on a meaningful level.

"We had continued to privately support Claude during his time away from the channel during the pandemic and the news of his passing comes as a deep shock to everyone at AFTV and in the wider Arsenal community."

Arsenal also sent out a tribute, tweeting: "Sending our condolences to Claude's family, friends and everyone who cherished him. His passion for the club was undeniable and he will be missed."

AFTV host's sad insight into Claude Callegari's final weeks

Arsenal Fan TV host Robbie Lyle posted a video tribute.

"I remember about six weeks ago, at the time there were a few people ringing me up telling me he was having some issues so I rang him up," Lyle said.

"I said, 'Claude, what's up? I've heard there are a few issues going on'. He said 'no, no Robbie, I'm alright'. It was round the anniversary of his mum's passing and that he was missing his mum.

"The guy had a heart of gold and I have nothing but love for him.

"We've lost ourselves a real genuine guy, a massive Arsenal fan and I'd love Arsenal to do something for him when football comes back. I'm really devastated."

A number of footballers also expressed their sadness, with former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell tweeting: “Deepest condolences to Claude’s Father and family. I honestly am shocked and can’t believe it! May he R.I.E.P."

Former Tottenham and Chelsea striker Graham Roberts wrote: “Had the pleasure of meeting Claude at my flat last year.

"He was a wonderful guy and real laugh I know he had some personal problems but he had an amazing heart and rivalries aside we had a great evening. Rip mate.”

Fellow AFTV pundit Moh Haider posted: “Claude was an unbelievably passionate Arsenal man and was brilliantly witty, but unfortunately in a world where people take more pride in being ‘savage’ than being nice, he had his ups and downs.

“I really hope that Claude passed away peacefully and painlessly, and my condolences go out to all of his family, friends, fans and all of the millions of people who smiled because of Claude. Rest in peace Claude.”

Readers seeking support and information about mental health can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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