David Beckham has hailed Captain Sir Tom Moore as the “very best of British” following his death at the age of 100.
The veteran and charity fundraiser died in Bedford Hospital on Tuesday morning after testing positive for coronavirus.
The former footballer shared the message alongside a video of his encounter with Sir Tom last year.
Beckham met Sir Tom when he presented him with a framed football shirt after he became the first member of the Lionhearts squad of inspirational heroes.
He described him as a “true hero” on Instagram, adding: “What he achieved for our NHS will never be forgotten.
“Tom, you were truly the very best of British.
“When our country and our world was struggling you gave us hope, put a smile on our faces and made us believe that tomorrow would be a good day. Rest in Peace Sir Tom.”
In the video, filmed at Sir Tom’s Bedfordshire home, the former England captain said he knew he “had to dress up today”.
Sir Tom replied: “I put this on because it’s the only jacket I’ve got.”
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton described Sir Tom as a “true hero”.
He said: “I am so saddened to hear of the passing of Captain Sir Tom Moore. He was an inspiration to the entire country and I am honoured to have had the opportunity to be able to tell him how in awe of him I was.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his family today, as well as everyone who has lost a loved one to this virus. Captain Sir Tom was a true hero and we will never forget the incredible man who brought out the best of us at such a difficult time.”
Fitness coach Joe Wicks, known as The Body Coach, labelled Sir Tom “an inspiration who helped millions of people feel hopeful and optimistic during a difficult time”.
“Rest in Peace Sir Captain Tom Moore,” he added.
BBC journalist Huw Edwards shared an image of him interviewing Sir Tom.
— Huw Edwards (@huwbbc) February 2, 2021
Alongside the photo, he tweeted: “A great honour meeting Sir Tom a few months ago. Sharp, determined, and such a generous spirit.”
TV presenters Ant and Dec tweeted: “Captain Sir Tom Moore. What a hero.
“You were a shining beacon of hope and an inspiration to us all when we needed it most. We thank you and salute you. Rest In Peace Sir.”
Author and illustrator Charlie Mackesy shared a sketched tribute, with a message saying: “Captain Sir Tom Moore – Thank you.”
Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna Reid called Sir Tom “the man who united and inspired our nation at a moment of deepest despair”.
“Thank you Captain Sir Tom Moore for your service. I am heartbroken for your family,” she added on Twitter.
“A life well lived, and well loved. RIP.”
TV and radio presenter Amanda Holden called Sir Tom an “absolute joy of a man”.
“A National Hero who brought us all together and shone so much light in such a dark time … his indomitable spirit and sense of humour taught us so much … and will live on thanks to the enormous legacy left behind,” she wrote on Instagram.
“My love goes out to your wonderful family.”
One Direction star Louis Tomlinson said Sir Tom was “a truly remarkable man whose message lives on as inspiration for us all to do more, whatever our inspiration”.
BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker tweeted: “How sad to hear about Captain Sir Tom Moore.
How sad to hear about Captain Sir Tom Moore.
He did so much to inspire us all last year & achieved so much in his 100th year.
He raised millions of pounds, lifted millions of spirits and now millions will miss his wisdom & his smile.
My deepest condolences to his loved ones. pic.twitter.com/yIjNoihC2z
— Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) February 2, 2021
“He did so much to inspire us all last year & achieved so much in his 100th year.
“He raised millions of pounds, lifted millions of spirits and now millions will miss his wisdom & his smile. My deepest condolences to his loved ones.”
Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness said Sir Tom “brought us together at a time when we needed it most”.
He added on Twitter: “I’d smile whenever he popped up on the telly, he made me feel proud, optimistic and hopeful for the future. RIP Captain.”
Radio presenter Zoe Ball tweeted: “Captain Sir Tom Moore. Thank you for inspiring us all to do more to help our fellow humans.
“You are forever in our hearts. May your star shine the brightest for your loved ones. RIP magical chap.”
Dylan Jones, editor-in-chief of GQ, said: “Captain Tom was one of the heroes of 2020, and he was the first person we thought of celebrating when we started planning last year’s Men Of The Year Awards.
“Not only was he the oldest person ever to grace our cover, he was one of the most gracious. He was a hero, a genuine old-fashioned hero, and I feel blessed that we were in his orbit, albeit for a very brief time.”
Captain Sir Tom Moore was honoured with the magazine’s Inspiration Award at their annual GQ Men Of The Year Awards last year.
He also made history, aged 100, as the oldest British GQ cover star in the magazine’s 33-year history.
BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire said Sir Tom “will never, ever be forgotten”.