By Claudia Rowan, PA
Former rugby league player Ricky Bibey has been named by Italian media as the British man found dead at a hotel in Florence.
The 40-year-old, from Manchester, was reportedly found dead in his room at the four-star Hotel Continentale on Saturday morning after staff alerted the police.
He was said to have arrived on Friday with a 43-year-old woman, thought to be his partner, who is being treated at the city’s Careggi hospital after she was found alongside him with serious injuries.
Italian newspaper La Nazione said that the man found dead was Bibey, who has 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 team-mates paid tribute to him on Sunday, with 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 & together for England schools boys U16’s. A great lad. Absolutely devastating news. RIP Ricky.”
Leigh wrote that the team were “desperately saddened” to learn of 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 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.
“We send our condolences to Ricky’s family and friends at this tough time.”
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
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 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.”
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, and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) did not confirm reports of the man’s identity.
An FCDO spokesperson said on Saturday: “We are in touch with the Italian police following the death of a British man in Florence.”