Son of footballer dies choking on toy

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The Independent Online

The two-year-old son of the Middlesbrough footballer Colin Cooper choked to death on a toy hours after his father celebrated his team's FA Cup victory over Manchester United.

Finlay Cooper choked on the small toy, or toy part, on Saturday. All efforts to revive him failed and he died soon afterwards in Harrogate District Hospital. Mr Cooper, 34, a defender, and his wife, Julie, have three older daughters.

Steve McClaren, Middlesbrough's manager, told Mr Cooper's team-mates of the tragedy when they reported for training yesterday morning. As a mark of respect, the session was cancelled.

Keith Lamb, the club's chief executive, expressed his sympathy for the family. He said: "Everyone at the football club is in deep shock at this tragic news. Our thoughts are with Colin, Julie and their family at this most difficult of times."

North Yorkshire Police confirmed that Finlay had been brought to hospital on Saturday night. A spokesman said: "Despite efforts by the family and emergency staff, including ambulance and hospital personnel, they were unable to save him and he was pronounced dead at 6.50pm by doctors at the hospital.

"North Yorkshire Police are not treating the death as suspicious at this time, but we are investigating on behalf of the North Yorkshire coroner to whom the case has been referred."

The spokesman said that Finlay's parents, who live in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, were "deeply distressed and upset" by the tragedy and asked for the media to respect their wish for privacy.