‘I was lucky to know him for 16 years’: Dad of promising footballer who lost his battle with leukaemia

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A bright and enormously popular teenager known for his fun personality and smile, who showed promise in both his studies and as a footballer, has tragically died after losing his battle with leukaemia.

After a period of feeling unwell, Nathaniel Roberts, from Swansea, was taken to the doctors by his parents in July last year, and he was found to have jaundice. A decision was made for him to be airlifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham the following day, where it was deemed he needed a liver transplant.

Tragically, that was not to be the end of Nathaniel’s ill health, and he was diagnosed with leukaemia on October 9 last year. He remained in Birmingham for treatment, returning home for a short period for Christmas time, but sadly passed away on February 5. He was just 16 years old.



Nathaniel was described as hugely popular and showed great promise in his studies and football

Nathaniel, who lived in Gorseinon with his mum Wen, dad Mark and younger sister Isobel, eight, had a passion for football and was highly regarded. He started off playing for Llangyfelach, before switching to Pontarddulais. The centre midfielder’s ability was later spotted by Cardiff City, and he began playing in their development system, before he then found himself in the set-up at Hereford.

He was also incredibly bright, and excelled at Pontarddulais School, achieving mostly A grades in his GCSEs. He planned to go on to study advanced maths and accountancy until he became ill, and had ambitions to go into business accountancy when he was older.

Nathaniel’s dad, Mark Roberts said: “We’re coping, I think that’s the best word – his younger sister keeps us going.”

“Receiving the news he had leukaemia was awful. We knew him being in hospital was the best place for him and we were just hoping for the best. Nathaniel was positive all the way through, every step of the way. He had concern for his sister when he had his head shaved etc, he was concerned she would not like it. He thought of other people first.

“Anyone and everyone who mentioned him would say how great he was and would mention his smile. He had a real fun personality. He was never in trouble, was always smiling and I hope people remember his laugh and remember the good memories. Everyone who has mentioned him has said how fun he was and there has never been any bad comments. I was lucky to know him for 16 years.”



Nathaniel loved fitness, and even asked for a treadmill for his 13th birthday

Mr Roberts spoke of his son’s love of fitness, explaining: “An example of that was coming up to Christmas, when he was about 13, he asked for a treadmill! Nathaniel loved football. He started when he was six or seven years old. He was picked up by the Cardiff development and a couple of years ago he started with Hereford.

“He knew there was a very slim chance of making it in football and he always studied hard in school. He was academic and got mostly As for his GCSEs. He had signed up for college and was going to be doing maths and accountancy.”

Leukaemia explained…


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Mr Roberts reserved special praise for all those staff who looked after Nathaniel in the Birmingham hospital, adding: “Every single member of staff was so brilliant. Every single person.”

Pontarddulais Town FC are currently running a special event during March in memory of Nathaniel, hoping to raise funds for the hospital that cared for him, and also support Pontarddulais Food Bank.

They are taking part in a challenge called March Around The World and the club are asking their members, parents and siblings to run, walk and cycle as far as they can this month with the aim of completing a round the world challenge of 40,000 km.



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The club’s under 6s coach, Anthony Davies, said: “We’re getting all the club members – parents, siblings, coaches and players to get out and walk and cycle as much as they can with the goal of getting 40,000km under our belt collectively. We’ve recorded 1,900km in two days, and we’re measuring distance by football grounds, so we’ve just reached the San Siro in Milan.

“Everyone at the club was rocked by the news about Nathaniel losing his battle to leukaemia. Nathaniel was very, very popular in the club. He was very hard working. When the news got out it was terrible, especially for the age group he was playing with. In discussion with Nathaniel’s mother we would like to support other young people who may require their (the hospital’s) excellent care in the future.

“We are also raising money for our local food bank. Since the start of the pandemic, our local food bank has fed over 1,500 people providing them with food parcels to last them three to four days. Parcels are prepared and distributed on a weekly basis by volunteers who work tirelessly to support those who are in need in our local community.”

If you wish to donate towards the cause, you can do so by clicking here.



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