The teenage victim who was murdered in Camden on Monday is a “former Southampton FC youth player” who had become involved with gang violence, according to friends.
Alex Smith is reported to be the teenager who died on Munster Square in north-west London after being chased by a group of people with a machete before being stabbed multiple times.
Friends of the 16-year-old claim that Alex had “gone off the rails” after he was released by his former club.
One told the Sun Online: "I was good friends from around age six to 14, but in the last couple of years he went off the rails.
"We played at Southampton FC youth team together but he got released and then got involved with the wrong people."
They added: "I think he was then involved in gang violence… he wasn't going to school.”
A spokesperson for Southampton FC said Alex was never officially signed but added: "He may have trialled or trained at our London Development Centre."
An eyewitness said they heard cries of "help me" before the teenager collapsed near the doorstep of his family home.
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He died at the scene in Munster Square after police were called at around 11.10pm on Monday.
Three young men were heard "screaming and laughing" as they pursued him with a machete, according to the eyewitness, who did not want to be named.
One eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: "I was just in my room and all I heard was screaming and shouting.
"Through my bedroom window I could see everything.
"We just saw the three boys holding him. He said 'help me, help me, help me’.
"He collapsed on the floor and then it was quiet.”
The victim's stomach was visibly bloodied, she said.
The suspected attackers are thought to have fled in a car, according to the Metropolitan Police.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Healy said: "We believe the victim was chased around the square by a number of suspects prior to being stabbed a number of times.
"The suspects made off in a vehicle which was discovered burnt out nearby.
"Another vehicle believed to be involved in the incident was also found burnt out some distance away.”
A man who lives near to where the body was found, who did not want to be named, said the square has recently become a hotspot for drug taking and groups of men regularly gather there.
Any witnesses or anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, quoting incident number CAD8433/12Aug.