FORMER Barnsley defender Chris Barker has died at the age of 39.
Sheffield-born Barker had been working as the lead professional development phase coach at League Two club Forest Green Rovers.
World in Motion, the sports management agency who represented Barker throughout his 18-year career, tweeted on Thursday morning: “It is with great sadness that we learn of the untimely and tragic passing at the age of 39 of Chris Barker.
“Chris was a client throughout his outstanding playing career of over 500 League games for clubs including Barnsley, Cardiff City, Queens Park Rangers and Plymouth Argyle.
“Moreover, Chris was a wonderful person, an absolute gentleman and a pleasure to work for.”
A statement from Rotherham United read: “Rotherham United were deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the news of the passing of Chris Barker, brother of our assistant manager Richard.
“We offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the Barker family whilst reaffirming that the thoughts of everyone at the football club, and indeed the town, are with Richard at this incredibly difficult time.
“On behalf of his family, we would politely request that they are afforded their privacy during this time.”
Chris Barker made 162 appearances and secured a promotion during his time at Cardiff from 2002-2007, having started his career at Oakwell, where he made over 100 appearances for the Reds.
Spells at Stoke City, Colchester United, QPR, Plymouth, Southend, Aldershot, Hereford and Weston-super-Mare followed his time at Cardiff before he retired from football in 2017.
Meanwhile, Barnsley have confirmed that their players will be wearing black armbands in tribute to Barker in their Championship game against Derby County this evening.
A statement read: “Our thoughts are with Chris Barker’s family and friends at this sad time.
“Barnsley FC players will be wearing black armbands in tribute at Pride Park on Thursday night.”