The cast of Love Island has paid tribute to former contestant Mike Thalassitis, who has died aged 26.

The reality television star and semi-professional footballer died on Friday, his management confirmed.

Thalassitis, a Cypriot, was born in Edmonton in London and played for clubs including St Albans and Chelmsford.

He found fame on the 2017 series of the ITV competitive dating show, earning the nickname “Muggy Mike” after partnering with fellow islander Chris Hughes’ girlfriend Olivia Attwood.

BUILD – Celebs Go DatingThalassitis appeared on Love Island in 2017 (Ian West/PA)

Thalassitis also appeared on the reality show Celebs Go Dating in 2018. He split from The Only Way Is Essex star Megan McKenna late last year.

A spokesman for ITV, which produces Love Island, said: “Everyone at ITV2 and Love Island are shocked and saddened by this terrible news. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Mike’s family and friends at this very sad time.”

Hughes was among those who paid tribute, urging people not to use the nickname.

He said: “His name wasn’t Muggy Mike. Please stop brandishing that.

“His name was Mike Thalassitis, and every inch of my heart goes out to his family & friends. A good guy, taken far, far to soon.”

Fellow Love Island contestant Attwood posted on Instagram: “Literally don’t know what to say. Another one gone too young. Thinking of mike’s family and friends at the horrendous time. you will be missed terribly.”

Thalassitis gained notoriety on the show for opting to pair with Attwood, despite the fact she was in a relationship with Hughes.

Love Island host Caroline Flack dubbed him a “total gentleman”.

She said: “Mike… you were a total gentleman… I won’t forget that … it’s so sad …you will be missed. RIP.”

There had been speculation that the pair were at one time romantically linked.

View this post on Instagram

Mike… you were a total gentleman… I won’t forget that … it’s so so sad …you will be missed. RIP. ❤️

A post shared by Caroline (@carolineflack) on Mar 16, 2019 at 12:49pm PDT

Jonny Mitchell appeared on Love Island with Thalassitis, and the pair remained friends.

In a post to Instagram, Mitchell said he was “heartbroken” by news of Thalassitis’ death, hailing his “positivity and charisma”.

He said: “I genuinely can’t believe what I’m seeing here.

“My boy from the villa and one of my best mates from the show coming out. An absolute hero and a legend and someone I personally looked up to, always full of so much positivity and charisma.

“One of the best people I’ve ever known taken from us far too soon, I’m heartbroken and can’t put into words how much I’m gonna miss you bro!”

Tyla Carr, who was paired with Thalassitis on the show, said: “I can’t believe the call I’ve just had.

“Mike, you were loved by all of the Love island family. You’ll be missed so much. All my love goes out to your friends and family. Shocked.”

Thalassitis and Carr left the show together after a public vote showed they were the least popular pair on the island that week.