HE WAS a hugely-respected teacher who was also one of Britain’s beach soccer stars.

Hounsdown School in Totton has been stunned by the sudden death of 35-year-old Michael Jeffery, who has been described as an “amazing and truly inspirational” member of staff.

Fellow beach soccer players have also paid tribute, describing him as a legend.

Mr Jeffery was a talented goalkeeper who played for the national team as well as the Portsmouth side. He had recently been appointed player-manager at Chelsea Beach Soccer Club.

Friends and relatives say his death has left them “beyond devastated”.

It comes three days after Stafford Road in Shirley, Southampton, was sealed off after a man’s body was found in a first floor flat.

Originally from Totland on the Isle of Wight, Mr Jeffery had taught PE at Hounsdown for almost eight years.

Executive head teacher Julie Turvey said: “He was an amazing and truly valued teacher and colleague who always put the students first.

“His passion and commitment to sport extended beyond the classroom, giving up his time freely to provide students with extra-curricular opportunities which included rugby, football, cricket and athletics.

“The teams he led achieved outstanding results at both local and national levels.

“He will be greatly missed but remembered as a truly inspirational teacher. His legacy will remain in the hearts and minds of those he taught.”

Mr Jeffery was known in the beach soccer world as “Jafu”.

A spokesman for England Beach Soccer, the organisation responsible for promoting and developing the sport, said: “Michael’s biggest achievement in goal for England was at the Sal Cup in Cape Verde in 2016, were he almost went two periods without conceding against the mighty Portugal.

“It took an unbelievable goal to eventually beat him.”

Writing on social media England’s captain, Aaron Clarke, said his team-mate was “a true gentleman with the heart of a lion”.

Fellow player Scotty Lawson added; “Not only a top goalkeeper but also one of the nicest guys I have ever had the pleasure of playing field.”

A spokesman for Chelsea Beach Soccer Club described Mr Jeffery as “not only a top goalkeeper but also a great man”.

A Hampshire police spokesman said: “Officers attended an address in Shirley following the discovery of a 35-year-old man’s body.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious.”