TRIBUTES have been paid to an ex-footballer who died trying to save his beloved dog from a motorway.
Former colleagues of 39-year-old Michael Garfin at Fareham Town FC were today trying to come to terms with his death on the M6 in Lancashire.
He died in front of his young family after being hit by an HGV as he went to rescue his German shepherd, Weiss.
Mr Garfin, who lived in Lancashire, played for Fareham between 1992 and 1994.
He signed for them while studying mechanical engineering at the University of Portsmouth.
He graduated in 1994 and was also a star member of the university’s team during his time there.
He died last Sunday after four-year-old Weiss managed to escape onto the motorway when the family’s Audi A4 hit a lamp-post and came off the road.
The dog was found safe later that day at a nearby golf course.
Mr Garfin listed walking the ‘enormous’ dog as one of his hobbies on website Friends Reunited.
Fareham FC spokesman Paul Proctor remembered centre-forward Mr Garfin well from his playing days at Cams Alders.
He said: ‘It’s a terrible way to die and everyone connected with the club is thinking about the family.
‘I knew Mike when he was at university in Portsmouth back in 1993-1994 when he signed for Fareham Town Football Club.’
He added: ‘He was a popular player among both his team-mates and Fareham Town supporters.
‘He was popular not only for his commitment and attitude but also for generally being one of life’s good guys.’
Mr Proctor particularly recalled one of Mr Garfin’s outstanding goals for the club.
‘Mike earned cult status among the Fareham faithful at Gravesend and Northfleet.
‘It followed a mazy run from the half-way line in which he beat three defenders before going on to score.’
Mr Garfin’s wife Kirsty and two young daughters Laura and Katie had made it to the hard shoulder after their car hit the lamp-post near Charnock Richard.
They escaped serious injury, but were standing just feet away when Mr Garfin was hit by the lorry seconds later.
Paying tribute, a friend of the family described him as ‘sterling bloke’ who adored his two children.
She added: ‘Mike was just a lovely, lovely bloke. Being a dad and husband was his world. He was brilliant with kids. All he ever wanted was to do right by his family and what has happened is just horrendous.’