THE FAMILY of Wales footballer Neco Williams has revealed how their lives went from excitement to devastation just hours before his first World Cup match.

That is because his grandfather John Kelvin Jones died unexpectedly aged 74 the day before Wales' Group B opener v USA, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Mr Jones - known as Kelvin, Kelvin Chips or Kel to those who knew him best - lived in Cefn Mawr, where Neco, who now plays for Nottingham Forest, was also raised.

He worked in Monsanto (also known as the Flexsys factory) - a rubber chemical plant - until he retired.

In a statement posted in tribute on social media, Neco's mum Emma Jones opened up on how happiness turned to devastation for the family ahead of the World Cup following her father's death.

Read more: “Neco showed great courage and bravery" after death of grandfather, says Wilson

She said: "From feeling excited and happy, it so quickly turned into devastation and sadness. To receive a message whilst flying (out to Qatar for the World Cup) that my dad had unexpectedly passed away was heartbreaking.

"I’ve never felt so much emotional pain in all my life. I feel like my heart has been ripped out and I’m useless not being able to comfort my family back home!

"Dad you will be sorely missed in so many ways, our weekly Friday Asda trips followed by Wetherspoons, the daily football discussions about Neco and Keelan (Neco's brother), your endless stories about Qatar, how you called all your grandchildren different names, your evening banter with Lee (Neco's dad), your stubbornness and always right attitude."

Speaking to the Leader, Emma added: "Dad enjoyed watching all sports, his favourites were football and cricket. He would go for daily walks with his homemade wooden walking stick and flat cap and enjoyed going to the Wrexham local pubs twice a week meeting up with friends.

The Leader:

PIC: John Kelvin Jones. Picture by Emma Jones.

"He travelled to Qatar with Lee (Neco's dad) 10 years ago to watch Neco play in an u12 tournament with Liverpool where they won. He used to help with the travelling taking Neco and Keelan to football training too when they were both at Liverpool academy.

"He would always make a packed lunch for the return journey and tell them what they needed to improve on. Every year since the kids were babies we would all go on holiday together abroad and also to Blackpool once a year which he enjoyed.

"I'm absolutely gutted, I just don’t understand how life can be so cruel, I can’t believe when I return back he's not going to be home. It’s never going to be the same ever again but our memories will never be forgotten."

Neco, 21, also paid tribute to his granddad via Instagram after Monday's match. 

He wrote: "Yesterday was the toughest news I’ve ever had to face and that was listening to my mum tell me my grandad past away last night.

"He’s been everywhere around the world to watch me play football from when I first started playing at Liverpool at six years old. He’d never tell me if I had a good game because he always said I have to get better and better each day and that’s why I am where I am now!

"So I dedicate this game all to him because I know he’s up there watching down on me very proudly. For everyone please cherish [what] you have with loved ones because you never know when it can get taken away from you."

Mr Jones leaves behind wife Barbara, children Emma, Helen, Craig and Stephanie, 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.