KEITH Downing says Albion’s playing and coaching staff have been left ‘devastated’ by the passing of masseur Derrick Jones.
The club announced on Monday that ‘Del’, as he was affectionately known, had passed away after battling with a serious illness.
Downing established a friendship with Derrick during his time at the club and has led the tributes to the 64-year-old.
“We're all devastated," he said.
"Del's health deteriorated so quickly.
“He was always a larger-than-life character.
"When I first joined the club around three-and-a-half years ago, Derrick was known as the big masseur with his 'Popeye' arms.
“He was great to have around the place and I think the fact past players have made so many calls to the club following the news is testament to the man.
“We’ve had calls from Nigel Pearson, Craig Shakespeare, Nicky Shorey and lots of other people who worked alongside him.
“It’s knocked us off our feet how quickly Del's health deteriorated, especially this side of Christmas.
“The club will pay tribute to him at Sunday's game against West Ham and everyone will want to attend his funeral next week.
“That tells you how fondly everyone remembers Del.
“He was an integral part of the staff, did his job well and was very dedicated.”