Tributes have been paid to sports photographer Frank Coppi after his death aged 62.
The former Daily Telegraph and Mail on Sunday photographer died on Wednesday last week, six months after he was diagnosed with spinal cancer. He leaves wife Belinda.
She said: “We had an exceptionally happy, fun marriage and were both still very much in love with each other. My one wish is that he was still here. I love and adore him.”
Friend and colleague Lawrence Lustig, who teamed up with Coppi as a freelance to cover sporting events from Wimbledon to the Olympics, said: “Not only was Frank a great photographer, he was also a great picture editor. He could spot a picture where others couldn’t – even if they had taken it themselves.
“Frank was a really nice, fun man. He was always smiling and could talk to anybody. He loved tennis and he loved Wimbledon. When we worked at the event, you would often see him standing and talking to the likes of Tim Henman and the Williams sisters’ father between jobs.
“He would also be chatting to the young players and encouraging them because he loved the sport.”
Born in Chingford, Coppi went to the same schools as football star David Beckham before moving to Enfield later on. He spent three years in Dubai, where he met Belinda whilst pursuing a career in commerce, returning to England in the early 1980s to become a professional sports photographer.
Coppi started on the Daily Telegraph and worked there for nearly 20 years before going on to combine freelancing with regular shifts for the Mail on Sunday. He was working up until shortly before his cancer diagnosis in December last year.
Tributes to Coppi were shared on Twitter by friends and colleagues the day after his death.
Among those paying tribute was Getty Images sports photographer Richard Heathcote who said: “Today the world of sport photography is a poorer place, RIP Frank Coppi, a legend and one of the bylines I always looked for as a student.”
Sports photographer Magi Haroun said: “Frank always had a smile on his face and with his ready laugh was a joy to be around. RIP Frank Coppi. A lovely man.”
Former West Ham United club photographer Steve Bacon said: “Fine photographer, friend and colleague Frank Coppi has died after his short battle with cancer RIP.”
The funeral will be held at midday on 12 Julyat Enfield Crematorium.