KEITH LASLEY admits he has been left been left ‘numb’ by the death of Christian Mbulu as he paid tribute to the former Motherwell player’s infectious energy and positivity.
The Fir Park assistant manager has described Mbulu as a ‘coach’s dream’ on and off the pitch, and was clearly shellshocked to learn of his passing at the age of 23 on Tuesday evening.
That sense of disbelief has ravaged the entire club, given a host of players, staff and office employees became close friends with the amiable Mbulu during his year in North Lanarkshire.
“Shocked and devastated are the only words I can think of,” said Lasley. “But I can’t honestly put into words how stunned we have been.
“For someone so young, fit and full of life to pass away just leaves us all numb.
“He was a joy in the dressing room and, from a coaching perspective, was a dream to have in the building.
“He exuded energy for anything he turned his attention to. Win, lose or draw, he brought joy, enthusiasm and was a real energy giver in the group.”
Mbulu, who was most recently on the books of Morecambe, joined Motherwell from Millwall in the summer of 2018, having previously turned out for Braintree on loan.
He struggled to make his mark in the first-team, making just six senior appearances, but Lasley is adamant his impact behind the scenes was unquestionable – and insists he was key in creating a culture of hard work and enthusiasm at Fir Park.
“When Christian came to us he didn’t play all that much but he always had an enthusiasm, an energy in training and a lust for life,” continued Lasley.
“He was such a big part of the culture that we tried to bring to the club. Even if he didn’t start games, he was always supporting those who were. We’ve always tried to drive that mentality at the football club and Christian was massive in that.
“You get some guys who aren’t in the team, maybe things aren’t going so well professionally, and it can get them down and they retreat into themselves. Christian was the exact opposite.”
A host of Motherwell employees – from chief executive Alan Burrows to former teammates David Turnbull and Charles Dunne – have paid emotional tributes to Mbulu, and Lasley is adamant he will be in everybody’s thoughts when the club eventually resumes training.
“The tributes being paid to him just some up how loved Christian was and we are all thinking of his family and friends,” added Lasley.
“The impression he left on our football club was massive.
“We can’t get together as a football club and process this news like we ordinarily would, which is difficult, but I am certain that when we do get together Christian will be at the forefront of all of our thoughts.
“That goes for the players, the staff and everyone behind the scenes – because he is fondly remembered by everyone inside Fir Park.”