West Ham United Ladies and former Charlton Athletic Women's footballer Katie Sheppard from Sidcup who died aged 20 was special talent at 12

News Shopper: Katie Sheppard in her West Ham Ladies kit. Katie Sheppard in her West Ham Ladies kit.

A Sidcup footballer who died aged 20 first showed her talents on holiday when she was just 12, a family friend has said.

Katie Sheppard played for Charlton Athletic Women’s reserves and was about to start pre-season training with West Ham United Ladies’ first team.

But her body was found at the family home in Montrose Avenue, Sidcup, at just before 5.10pm on July 2 in circumstances police are not treating as suspicious.

Following a post-mortem an inquest was opened and adjourned on Thursday (July 10).

Aged 10 Katie was one of Rik and Emma Taylor’s bridesmaids when the couple got married at Sidcup Registry Office in April 2004.

HR manager Rik, 36, told News Shopper: "Her family and ours went on holiday to Truro in Cornwall when Katie was 12.

"We had quite a large garden with a football net set up and I have the fondest memories of getting beaten by her every night.

News Shopper:

Tributes to Katie Sheppard left outside Upton Park. A Facebook group remembering her has more than 700 likes. 

"When that happened we knew there was something special about her football."

The father-of-two, who lives in Hawley Road, Wilmington, added: "She was very kind and caring.

"It was a shock when her mum Gill told me. With somebody so young you don’t expect them to pass away under any circumstances.

"I’m just one of many people who knew her and will miss her."

West Ham season ticket holder Danny Bishop, 50, sat next to fellow Hammers fan Katie during every home game at Upton Park.

The second-hand car dealer said: "I’m absolutely devastated about it because she was such a lovely girl.

"We used to jump up and have a cuddle when they scored.

"She was just a smashing kid."

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