- English football player Gemma Wiseman, 33, was found dead a few days before Christmas
- Wiseman won a bronze medal for Great Britain with his wife at the World Deaf Championships
- For confidential support, call Samaritans on 116123 or visit www.samaritans.org
A talented Team GB footballer who won a bronze medal for Great Britain alongside his wife has tragically passed away just days before Christmas.
Gemma Wiseman, 33, helped Great Britain to a third-place finish at the FIFA Deaf World Cup in Italy in 2016.
The British star’s body was discovered by a member of the public in woods on December 16, near Wilkinson Road in Rackheath, near Norwich.
An inquest into her death was opened on December 28 at Norfolk Coroner’s Court at City Hall, with the medical cause of death given as ‘structural spasm of the neck’. The next hearing will take place on July 29.
Wiseman, who worked as a teaching assistant and idolized England legend David Beckham, leaves behind his ‘devastated’ wife Laura – who is also deaf – and their three-year-old daughter, Allie.
Gemma and Laura are devoted to each other and started dating in 2011 when they met while playing soccer. They married on July 26, 2018, and Laura gave birth to their daughter almost exactly two years later, on July 24, 2020.
Since her death, one GoFundMe page has been set up and raised £8,295 – with tributes to the ‘kind and thoughtful’ footballer who championed disability sports and was a mentoring young players in her home county.
A statement posted on the page said Gemma’s family and friends were ‘absolutely devastated’ by her tragic death.
‘Gemma is a kind and thoughtful person with a great sense of humour. Wherever she went, she brought laughter and energy and easily made friends with anyone lucky enough to meet her,’ the site said.
‘Gemma leaves behind his devoted wife, Laura, and three-year-old daughter completely lost without her.
‘We are kindly asking for donations to help pay for Gemma’s funeral and give her the send-off she truly deserves. So if you can donate anything it would be greatly appreciated.
‘Laura is extremely grateful for everyone’s help and support at this difficult time.’
In a Facebook post, Laura thanked everyone for their support and added: ‘It’s okay xx.’
Wiseman, born on January 28, 1990, in Plymouth, Devon, worked as a teaching assistant while continuing to play football for a number of local clubs.
In addition to winning the bronze medal at the 2016 Deaf World Cup in Italy, her illustrious career on the field also saw her earn a third place at the 2013 Deaflympics in Bulgaria and another third place at 2011 European Football Championship for Team GB.
Speaking about those successes with Norfolk FA, she said: ‘My biggest achievement was winning bronze in Italy and it was the best team. We gave our all in those matches and it meant a lot to all of us. My other biggest achievements were playing for England and winning an Olympic medal.’
Off the field, she is a devoted mother and loving wife, regularly sharing snapshots of her family life on social media.
She also acts as a role model for other young deaf footballers, participating in events across Norfolk to support grassroots football.
Speaking about his passion, Wiseman told the Norfolk FA in 2021 that it was important for young people to have someone to look up to.
Admitting her idol as a girl was former England captain David Beckham, she added: ‘Girls who are not sure about playing soccer, you will never know until you try and follow your heart.
‘It’s important for girls to be seen as role models so they can prove them wrong and can play the sport they love.’
Lucindha Lawson, Wiseman’s teammate, paid emotional tribute into ‘one of the most amazing people’ on Instagram, just days after her death.
Next to a roll of photos taken together, Lawson wrote: ‘Gemma Louise Wiseman (Sanders) is more than just a teammate and roommate; she is one of the most wonderful people – funny, thoughtful and truly special.
‘As my roommates at the Deaflympics in 2013, we shared countless memorable moments, even when eliminated because other villas were far away from our home alone.
‘Plus, I’ll never forget that night out in Bristol during the GB training camp, sneaking into the town center with a few girls. I believe she drove us there and it was a wonderful night.
‘We didn’t get caught the next day (everyone knows about it now, but who cares anyway?!). We journeyed together to Bulgaria for the Deaflympics in 2013, Bulgaria for the Euros in 2014, Thailand for the Worlds in 2015 and Italy for the Worlds in 2016. Our early 20s were filled with Unforgettable party and adventure.’
She continued: ‘Gemma, it was an honor to play alongside you, one of the greatest players I’ve ever known, and to get to know you as a person. I had the honor of attending your wonderful wedding.
‘Thank you for being a part of me in your life; it means a million to me. The memories of those moments will be cherished forever. I deeply regret not doing more for our friendship, but I feel comforted in knowing that you are no longer suffering. May you rest in peace without pain.
‘I will always be here to support you Laura in any way I can. Fly high and I believe my brother will take care of you for me. Love you, will miss you and see you later.’
Well-wishers were saddened by Wiseman’s death and left messages of support for her family on her GoFundMe page.
‘So sad to hear this. I didn’t know Gemma but recognized her from the Deaf festival. I remember Gemma and Laura took Allie to the bear clinic to buy hearing aids for her bear,’ one commenter said.
Another added: ‘I’m so sorry to read this. We worked together in 2014 for Break. Gemma has the kindest and sweetest soul. Then we met on Sunday mornings when our young daughters played soccer together. A happy, friendly face that I still see from time to time. Very very sorry. Rest in peace, lovely lady.’
A third said: ‘Our thoughts are with you Laura and Allie. Gemma always had a wonderful smile and bubbly personality when we bumped into you in Blofield.’
Gemma and Laura are both women’s soccer champions and enthusiastically support young female players participating in this sport. Gemma also supports mental health charities online.
The pair supported the Norfolk FA Women’s Inclusive Football Festival. Laura said: ‘It’s important for girls to have a role model so they can see that we can do it and that nothing stops us from playing the sport we love. ‘
In a statement to MailOnline, Norfolk FA said: ‘All at Norfolk County FA are extremely saddened to hear of Gemma Wiseman, who tragically passed away just before Christmas. Our thoughts are with Gemma’s family and friends at this difficult time.
‘Gemma was a keen footballer who was well known to the County FA as a player for local teams as well as competing internationally with the England and GB deaf teams.
‘Gemma’s family is pleased to appeal for donations to help pay for Gemma’s funeral and give her the send-off she truly deserves.’
In 2016, Manchester United legend Gary Neville donated £20,000 to help men’s and women’s deaf football teams qualify for the 2017 Deaflympics.
The footballer-turned-professional made the donation in response to a tweet from GB Women’s captain Claire Stancliffe when he discovered that neither the FA’s Premier League provided financial support to the Kingdom’s deaf sides Older brother.
‘I’ll do it if they don’t,’ he tweeted in 2016.
An inquest to determine Wiseman’s official cause of death will take place at Norfolk Coroner’s Court on July 29 next year.
For confidential support, call Samaritans on 116123 or visit your local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details