A FAMILY has paid tribute to an "amazing" son, brother and friend who died on holiday in Benidorm.

Keen footballer Michael Jones had become separated from his group of friends following a night out.

The 21-year-old, who is known to many as Mike, was found dead in the early hours of Friday morning.

It is understood that he had fallen over the railings at the Apartamentos Viña Del Mar hotel. A full inquest will be carried out in due course.

The family, who are still looking for answers, has travelled to Spain to be with Michael and to arrange for his body to be brought home.

Paying tribute, father Paul Jones, said: "On October 16, 1996, I was given the first of two gifts, gifts of life. Michael my eldest son was born at Bolton Hospital.

"Earlier this week my beautiful baby boy died whilst on a 'lads holiday' in Benidorm. He died alone from injuries sustained from a horrific accident that no one could have foreseen. Understand that there is no blame to lay at anybody's feet.

"We met with Mike's friends on Saturday. They returned early from the holiday, devastated by the loss of a close friend.

"My wife Janet, son Joseph, family, friends and colleagues have been a massive support over the nightmare of the past few days. Thank you all for your kind words.

"I am broken and feel so alone. I can't see the pain ending. A part of me died with Michael, never to be replaced or healed. No parent should have to bury their child, it's just not right, it's not fair.

"I told Mike I loved him with every opportunity I had and meant every word. I hope he understood just how much he meant to me. I cannot explain how much this hurts.

"Cherish your children, tell them that you love them deeply, you never know if and when they will be taken from you."

Former Little Lever High School pupil Michael was on holiday with a group of friends he had played football with and gone to school with.

Michael began playing football at the age of five, and devoted much of his life to the sport.

Paul shared memories of his son holding a foam football in the hallway at the family home in Church Street, Little Lever, when he was young.

Michael's football journey began at Little Lever Sports Club when he was just five. He was coached by his dad, the then manager, and assistant manager Tony Lomax.

At six years old, Michael joined Manchester City Academy then moved to Manchester United Academy.

Since the age of 12, he has played for various local teams, including Bury FC Academy, Walshaw Sports Club, Bolton Town and Ramsbottom United FC, mainly as a winger and striker, returning to Little Lever two years ago.

A close family friend said: "Michael was a lovely lad. He was one of those kids who loved to play football. Football was his life."

Paul said: "Michael was football. He was also involved in cricket and darts, and he played against some professional darts players at charity events.

"He has been an amazing kid. I loved his smile and his engagement. He was a lovely boy to be around.

"The messages and phone calls we have had highlight that even more."

The family thanked friends and members of the community who have shown immense kindness to them over the past few days.

Thousands of messages of condolence have been shared and a gofundme page has been set up to help cover the cost of Michael's journey home and his funeral. Already £4,175 has been donated.

Michael leaves behind parents Paul and Kath, stepmum Janet, brothers Joseph and Robert, and sisters Elisabeth and Sarah.

Preparations are being made for a celebration of Michael's life at the Parish Church of St Matthew, in Little Lever.

Donations can be made to the gofundme page at www.gofundme.com/michael-jones-161096-050718.