Dylan Tombides

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Dylan Tombides
Dylan Tombides West Ham United.jpg
Tombides warming-up for West Ham United
Personal information
Full name Dylan James Tombides[1]
Date of birth (1994-03-08)8 March 1994
Place of birth Perth, Australia
Date of death 18 April 2014(2014-04-18) (aged 20)
Place of death London, England
Height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
Playing position Striker
Youth career
2010–2012 West Ham United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2012–2014 West Ham United 0 (0)
National team
2011 Australia U17 5 (1)
2014 Australia U23 4 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 26 September 2012
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 21 January 2014

Dylan James Tombides (8 March 1994 – 18 April 2014) was an Australian football player who played as a striker for West Ham United and the Australian under-17 and under-23 teams.

He grew up in Macau and played in Hong Kong before joining West Ham at the age of 15. After the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup, Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and in September 2012 during a period of recovery, he made his only professional appearance for West Ham. Following more treatment, he played at the 2013 AFC U-22 Championship, a feat that "defies medical logic".[2]

Tombides died at the age of 20. Alongside Bobby Moore, he is one of only two players to have their shirt numbers retired by West Ham.



Dylan Tombides with West Ham.

Born in Perth, Tombides lived in City Beach[3] and played youth football with Stirling Lions SC before moving to Macau in 2007 aged 13.[2] He played in nearby Hong Kong with the Brazilian Soccer School in Yau Ma Tei[4] before joining West Ham United aged 15.[5] He was an unused substitute in the Premier League game on 22 May 2011 against Sunderland, in which the already relegated Hammers concluded their season with a 0–3 loss at the Boleyn Ground.[6]

On 25 September 2012, he made his only professional appearance for West Ham in a 4–1 home defeat by Wigan Athletic in the League Cup third round, coming on as an 84th-minute substitute for Gary O'Neil.[7][8]


Tombides played in the Under-17 World Cup in Mexico in 2011, and played all four of Australia's matches as they reached the last 16 before elimination by Uzbekistan. In their opening game in Guadalajara, he scored the winner for a 2–1 victory over the Ivory Coast.[9] He was considered by Australian fans and media to be a successor to Harry Kewell, but his coach Jan Versleijen downplayed the comparisons, saying that despite his talent it was too early to make such a judgement.[9]

In January 2014, he represented Australia at the AFC U-22 Championship in Muscat, Oman. He played in games against the hosts,[10] Iran,[11] Japan,[12] and Saudi Arabia as Australia reached the quarter-finals.[13]

Cancer diagnosis and death[edit]

In mid-2011, Tombides was aware of a lump, which his doctor told him was a benign cyst.[2] After a random drugs test taken shortly after Australia's elimination from that year's Under-17 World Cup, it was confirmed that he had testicular cancer.[14]

In June 2012, after treatment including the removal of his lymph nodes, Tombides was told he was back to full health and returned to training,[15][16] and made his West Ham debut in September 2012. However, in December, he was back on chemotherapy, and had two stem cell transplants in eight weeks. By March, his cancer had metastasised to his liver.[2]

Tombides played at the Asian under-22 championship in January 2014 after intense chemotherapy, but was told on return to England that his condition had become incurable.[2] He died on the morning of 18 April 2014, with his family surrounding his bedside.[17]

The next day, before a game against Crystal Palace at the Boleyn Ground, his father and brother Taylor, laid a shirt on the centre spot which carried Tombides' squad number 38 and his name. West Ham United announced that this number would be retired from use, an honour previously bestowed by the club only to Bobby Moore.[18] Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak, also an Australian, did not celebrate when he scored the only goal in that match.[2] Jedinak invited the Tombides family to Christmas that year.[2]

Tombides was cremated on 5 May 2014 in a service at Padbury, to the north of Perth.[3]


In February 2015, The "Dylan Tombides DT38" charitable foundation was launched with the aims of fundraising, raising awareness of testicular cancer and of the education of young people on the subject.[19]

In September 2015, a statue was unveiled at the Perth Oval commemorating his life.[20]

Among his former teammates, George Moncur had Tombides' name tattooed onto his arm, and Elliot Lee chose the same shirt number when loaned to Luton Town.[2]

On Easter Monday 2016, West Ham United staged a testimonial match for their captain Mark Noble between West Ham United and a West Ham "All-Star" Team consisting of former West Ham players. Noble donated the proceeds from the match to three charities, one of which was the DT38 Foundation. Towards the end of the game, Taylor Tombides came on as a substitute for the All-Star XI, wearing a number 38 shirt in honour of his late brother. He also scored the fifth goal for the All-Stars in a 6-5 win for West Ham.[21]


  1. ^ "Premier League Clubs submit Squad Lists" (PDF). Premier League. 26 September 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Taylor, Daniel (28 February 2015). "Dylan Tombides's heart-rending life story receives a fitting tribute". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Dylan TOMBIDES". The West Australian. 3 May 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  4. ^ Carney, John. "HK prodigy Dylan Tombides in debut for West Ham while battling cancer". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  5. ^ "On this day - 8 March". www.whufc.com. Archived from the original on 10 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  6. ^ Darling, Kevin (22 May 2011). "West Ham 0-3 Sunderland". Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  7. ^ "WA's Tombides makes West Ham debut a year after cancer diagnosis". Au.news.yahoo.com. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  8. ^ "West Ham 1–4 Wigan Athletic". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Australia make a strong start to their Under-17 World Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast". Fox Sports. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Oman vs. Australia". The-Afc.com. Archived from the original on 28 June 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  11. ^ "Australia vs. Iran". The-Afc.com. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  12. ^ "Australia vs. Japan". The-Afc.com. Archived from the original on 18 January 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  13. ^ "Australia vs. Saudi Arabia". The-Afc.com. Archived from the original on 28 June 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  14. ^ Ashton, Neil (30 May 2012). "I just said: Dad, could this kill me? Hammers kid Dylan relives his 10-month hell fighting cancer". www.dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  15. ^ "Ex-HK soccer starlet defeats cancer". www.scmp.com. 3 June 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  16. ^ "Dylan Tombides opens up on cancer battle". www.heraldsun.com.au. 30 May 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  17. ^ West Ham. "West Ham United player Dylan Tombides dies aged 20 after battle with testicular cancer". Telegraph. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  18. ^ Henson, Mike (19 April 2014). "West Ham 0-1 Crystal Palace". BBC Sport. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  19. ^ "Dylan Tombides Foundation". www.whufc.com. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  20. ^ Peter Kapsanis (1 September 2015). "DT38 Down Under". Perth Glory. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  21. ^ "West Ham United 6-5 West Ham United All-Stars - West Ham United". Retrieved 13 April 2016.