TRIBUTES have been paid to the former captain of a football team who died after a suspected cardiac arrest while competing in a cycling race.

Paramedics and other riders and marshalls attending the race at Cyclopark in Kent rushed to help Chris “Jack” Hewitt, from Burgess Hill, but he is believed to have died at the scene.

Sussex Revolution VC announced that their much-loved rider, who was in his early fifties, died after taking part in the League of Veteran Racing Cyclists race on Saturday afternoon.

Paying tribute to him, the cycling club said: “It is with unimaginable shock and sadness that we have to share the sudden passing of our dear friend and club mate Chris Hewitt.

“There are no words to describe the massive loss the club is feeling at present.

“Being a small club we are a very close group and SRVC is a family as well as a cycling club.

“This weekend we have lost a family member.

“Of course our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time, should you wish to share your sympathy then please feel free to post.

“For Chris, RIP would seem inappropriate, he didn’t know how to rest. Let’s just say RIP, ride in paradise.”

Mr Hewitt was a well-known footballer and played more than 500 games for Hassocks Football Club’s Robins first team before he retired in 2008.

In a Facebook post, a spokesman for the club said: “Everyone at Hassocks Football Club is deeply saddened by the news of the sudden passing of our former captain Chris “Jack” Hewitt.

“A tough competitor on the pitch and a real gentleman off it, he scored 22 times for the club and could hit a free kick as hard as any player who has ever played for Robins.

“The word legend is bounded around freely these days but that really is what Jack was at Hassocks.

“He will always be remembered as one of the greatest players to play for the Robins and certainly one of the best blokes as well.

“Our thoughts go out to Andrea and the rest of the Hewitt family at this sad time.

“RIP captain.”

After retiring, Mr Hewitt continued to play for the club’s third and veterans teams and managed its reserve team.

Hundreds of social media users have reacted to the football club’s post announcing Mr Hewitt’s death and paid tribute to him.

Spencer “Jarvis” Slaughter wrote: “Absolute beast on the pitch and off the pitch, the biggest gentleman there was.

“Done so so much for me as a young lad coming in to the Hassocks first team, he really did.”

Cyclopark has extended its condolences to Mr Hewitt’s family and friends.