A British man who was found dead in a hotel room in Florence has been identified as former rugby league player Ricky Bibey.
Staff at the Hotel Continentale found the body of the 40-year-old retired rugby star in his room on Saturday at about 8am local time.
The hotel workers said that he arrived at the establishment on Friday with a 43-year-old woman, who is thought to be his partner and is being treated at the city’s Careggi hospital for serious injuries.
The staff were alerted to the incident by the woman who “came out half naked from the room, smeared with blood, screaming for help to the neighbours and to a cleaner,” according to Italian newspaper La Nazione.
MailOnline has reported that Mr Bibey had suffered a seizure, but the cause of death is yet to be confirmed as Italian media state that investigators have ordered a post-mortem examination as well as toxicology reports.
A police source had told MailOnline: “There is blood in the room and the forensic teams are working there at the moment while the woman has been taken to hospital for treatment.
“Her current condition is serious but she is stable and her injuries are not life-threatening. We hope to question her at some point in the next few hours.”
Mr Bibey had played for teams including St Helens, Wigan Warriors, Wakefield Trinity, and Leigh Centurions.
We are desperately saddened to learn of the passing of their popular former prop forward Ricky Bibey (HN#1211) while on holiday in Italy. Ricky was only 40 years of age. Everyone at the club sends sincere condolences to his family and friends at this time. ❤️
— Leigh Centurions (@LeighCenturions) July 17, 2022
His former clubs and teammates paid tribute to him on Sunday, with rugby star Leon Pryce writing on Twitter: “Sincere condolences to Ricky’s family. We played against each other since the age of about 14.
“Yorkshire vs Lancashire and together for England schools boys U16’s. A great lad. Absolutely devastating news. RIP Ricky.”
Leigh Centurions wrote that the team were “desperately saddened” to learn of Mr Bibey’s death while he was “on holiday in Italy”, adding: “Everyone at the club sends sincere condolences to his family and friends at this time.”
Wakefield Trinity wrote: “Trinity are saddened to hear of the passing of former prop-forward Ricky Bibey, aged 40.
“Ricky played for Trinity between 2007 and 2009, making 60 appearances.
Trinity are saddened to hear of the passing of former prop-forward Ricky Bibey, aged 40.
Ricky played for Trinity between 2007 and 2009, making 60 appearances.
We send our condolences to Ricky's family and friends at this tough time. ❤ pic.twitter.com/ZAEqH5iYxo
— Wakefield Trinity (@WTrinityRL) July 17, 2022
“We send our condolences to Ricky’s family and friends at this tough time.”
Mr Bibey was a professional rugby player for more than a decade until he retired in 2012 due to an achilles tendon injury.
At the time of his retirement from the sport, Leigh Centurions said: “He’s a big loss for us, both on the field and around the club. Ricky has had a fantastic career and he’s been a very good professional.”
Mr Bibey is reported to have worked as an estate agent in the years following his retirement, and had previously run a development company.
When approached by the PA news agency, Florence police and hotel staff were unable to provide any information regarding the incident.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) did not confirm reports of the man’s identity.
But, an FCDO spokesperson said on Saturday: “We are in touch with the Italian police following the death of a British man in Florence.”