Tributes have poured in for the wife of actor and former professional footballer Vinnie Jones, who died following a six-year battle with cancer.
Tanya Jones passed away aged 53 at her home in Los Angeles yesterday surrounded by her family, after her condition had worsened in recent weeks.
Her husband, 54, was at her bedside as the news of her death was described as ‘heartbreaking’ by Mr Jones’ spokesman.
Sporting figures and celebrities sent messages of condolence to Mr Jones after news of his wife’s death broke.
Former England striker and BBC Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeted: ‘How terribly sad. Condolences to @VinnieJones65 and family.’
Ex-boxer Frank Bruno tweeted: ‘I’m very saddened to hear the news of Vinnie Jones wife Tanya passing away. My thoughts are with Vinnie & his family at this difficult time’.
Lord Sugar and Piers Morgan were also among those tweeting their condolences to Mr Jones and his family.
Piers Morgan wrote: ‘Such desperately sad news that Tanya Jones has lost her long battle against cancer, aged just 53.
‘She was a delightful woman, and a truly courageous fighter.
‘My deepest condolences to Vinnie @VinnieJones65 & all the family. RIP Tanya’.
Lord Sugar said: ‘Sorry for your loss Vinny @VinnieJones65’.
Former teammates of Mr Jones including AFC Wimbledon striker Kevin Cooper were among the ex-footballers including Peter Shilton who shared heartfelt messages online.
Others including former Fulham FC midfielder Steve Sidwell and singer Jimmy Constable offered their thoughts and condolences to Mr Jones and his family too.
Ex-Arsenal and Everton striker Kevin Campbell said: ‘Deepest Condolences to you, your family and loved ones @VinnieJones65’.
One Twitter user expressed their condolences at Mr Jones’ bereavement while another sent ‘Love Hope and Strength’ in ‘abundance’.
The couple married in Watford in 1994 and renewed their vows in 2007.
In 2013, they were both diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer, and fought it together, getting the all-clear two years later.
As well as Vinnie, she is survived by her daughter, Kaley, by her former husband Steve Terry, and a son, Aaron, who she shares with Mr Jones.
Mr Jones’ spokesman told The Sun: ‘Tanya passed peacefully at the Jones family home surrounded by Vinnie, their daughter and other family members.
‘Vinnie and the family ask for privacy while they go through an understandable period of mourning during this devastating time.’
Despite the couple fighting off cancer together, it was revealed last night that Tanya had been ill for quite some time.
Football clubs from Jones’ playing days also added to the chorus of support for the ex-Midfielder.
Leeds United, where Jones played a pivotal role in ensuring the club’s promotion to Division One tweeted: ‘The thoughts of everyone at are with Vinnie Jones, and the family and friends of his wife Tanya, who has sadly passed away’.
After Sheffield United, Mr Jones transferred to Chelsea FC where he spent a year at the West London club.
The club tweeted: ‘Our thoughts are with former Blue Vinnie Jones following today’s very sad news’.
But it was AFC Wimbledon that the Brit spent the largest part of his career at, enjoying two spells at the club in the late 1980s and mid 1990s.
They tweeted: ‘Everyone at Wimbledon wishes to extend their deepest sympathies to our former player, Vinnie Jones, following the tragic death of his wife, Tanya. Our condolences also go out to Vinnie’s family at this terrible time’.
At the age of 21, she was forced to undergo an emergency heart transplant and was treated for cervical cancer twice before being diagnosed with melanoma.
It is thought that her cancer may have been a side effect of the drugs she has been taking following a heart transplant 26 years ago.
When the couple were first diagnosed, Mr Jones said: ‘When it comes to things like this, women are stronger.
‘Suddenly I’ve gone from the one helping her to the one that needs support.
‘I take my strength from Tanya. She believes her life was saved to save me, and in return I feel it is my role to look after her.’
He added he did not know what he would do without her.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror in 2017, Jones described Tanya as ‘the most incredible person’, adding: ‘I think we’re the perfect match and I was lucky to find it.’
The couple met 25 years ago while Mr Jones played for AFC Wimbledon, where he and a group of players earned notoriety as a members of the ‘Crazy Gang’ at the club.
The group became known for their macho behaviour and aggressive style of play on the pitch, a reputation that the centre midfielder carried through beyond his footballing career.
In 1998, Mr Jones made his film debut when he starred in Guy Ritchie’s crime comedy Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, playing a mob enforcer.
The film was a box office hit and the former Leeds midfielder went on to feature in Mean Machine and X-Men: The Last Stand.
Maintaining his badboy persona on and off the pitch, the ex-footballer also found himself on the wrong side of the law on two occasions.
On the same year Lock Stock was released, the Mean Machine actor was convicted of assault and criminal damage against a neighbour before he got into trouble again in 2003 for an air rage incident.
Mr Jones was forced to pay a fine of £1,100 and ordered to undergo 80 hours of community service for assault and threatening behaviour while drunk on a Virgin Atlantic flight.
But in spite of all his bad boy antics, the couple remained together throughout this period.
It was not until February 2013 that the couple faced another challenge when Mr Jones first noticed a lump beneath his right eye in February 2013.
After seeing a doctor, the Brit was told that the lump was a melanoma – a dangerous strain of the skin disease which kills around 2,000 people every year in the UK.
At the time he vowed to fight the condition with ‘everything I’ve got’.
Speaking to The Sun in 2013, the star said: ‘Cancer is a horrible word to hear. I’ve faced the biggest and ugliest lads on the football field and been in some nasty brawls. But this is my toughest and scariest opponent yet.
‘When the doctor said I had skin cancer, the first thing I though was, ”How long have I got?”
The lump was removed but two more growths were later discovered.
In September 2013, he had a third operation to have a lump removed from the back of his head before being given the all clear last year.
Mr Jones, a recovering alcoholic, blamed his outdoor lifestyle for the cancer – aggravated by his move to Los Angeles with wife Tanya to pursue his film career.
It is now likely the actor will pull out of Celebrity X-Factor this Autumn.
A source told Mirror Online: ‘Vinnie was expected to appear on the show but that’s likely to change now as filming is due to start in LA in two days time.
‘It’s been known for a while that he was going to take part but given the circumstances that probably won’t happen.
‘Everyone is devastated for him and his family.’