SOUTHEND United paid tribute to their former captain Chris Barker before and during Saturday's 0-0 draw with Tranmere Rovers.

Barker was found dead, aged just 39, on New Year's Eve.

And his former Blues team-mates Ryan Leonard, Ryan Cresswell and Johnny Herd all returned to Roots Hall to be on the pitch for a one minute's silence which was impeccably observed before kick off.

Shrimpers physiotherapist Ben Clarkson laid a photo montage of Barker next to flowers the former players had placed in the centre circle and was joined by Southend defender John White who played alongside Barker at Colchester United.

The Roots Hall crowd also rose to its feet to conduct a minute's applause - in the 39th minute - to remember Barker.

And Leonard was among those to pay tribute to the former Shrimpers skipper.

"Barks was probably the most down to earth person I've ever come across," said Leonard.

"After living together for three years we shared some amazing moments on and off the football pitch. He was a like a big brother to me at Southend and I will forever be grateful to him. There was no messing about and he was just an amazing man."

And White echoed those sentiments.

"He was a great person to be around both on and off the pitch," said White.

"Barks was a good, solid, hard player but more importantly he was a true gent who had time for everyone and could always put a smile on my face. "

"He will be sorely missed by everyone he crossed paths with as you may have seen by the outpouring across social media. My thoughts go out to those who knew him and especially to his family at this extremely sad time."

Barker made 142 appearances for the Shrimpers between 2010 and 2013 and captained the club in the JPT final against Crewe Alexandra at Wembley. And Blues boss Sol Campbell feels the ex defender will not be forgotten.

"It was commendable by everyone," said Campbell.

"It's a sad moment but he will be remembered forever at the club,"