Steve Booth dies from hidden heart disease on day he was due to pick up engagement ring

Leicester Tigers’ star Steve Booth died the day after asking his long-term girlfriend Danielle Watts to marry him.

The super-fit 42-year-old, who was a fans’ favourite at Welford Road, collapsed and died of heart disease on August 13 – the day he was due to pick up the diamond engagement ring he had ordered for his fiancee.

Danielle, who had been with Steve for 11 years, has told how her future plans of happiness were ripped apart.

‘Everything was going so well,’ she said. ‘We had just come back from a lovely family holiday to Cancun in Mexico and he had proposed to me.

Steve Booth (pictured with his children and long-term partner) died of a hidden heart disease on August 13 after they had returned from holiday 

Steve Booth (pictured, playing for Leicester Tigers) died on the same day he was due to pick up the diamond engagement ring

Steve Booth (pictured, with Danielle) died on the same day he was due to pick up the diamond engagement ring

Steve Booth (left, playing for Leicester Tigers and, right, with Danielle) died on the same day he was due to pick up the diamond engagement ring 

‘He had proposed to me a few times over the years but we had both just laughed it off. This time he was serious.

‘Steve meant it and we were excitedly making plans to go back out to Cancun to get married out there as we had had such a great time. It feels surreal that he is no longer here with us.’

Danielle lived with Steve and their two children Maisie, nine, and five-year-old Jack, near Glen Parva.

Booth was signed in 2000 by then Tigers director of rugby Dean Richards, after making an impact in rugby league with Huddersfield and Doncaster.

In a four-year spell at the club he made 71 appearances and scored 26 tries, helping Tigers to two Premiership titles, a brace of Heineken Cup triumphs and earning England A honours.

She told how Steve had been complaining of heartburn in the days before he collapsed.

Steve Booth (pictured, with Danielle) died on the very same day he was due to pick up a diamond engagement ring

Steve Booth (pictured) died on the very same day he was due to pick up a diamond engagement ring

Steve Booth (right, and, left, with Danielle) died on the very same day he was due to pick up a diamond engagement ring 

‘We came back from Mexico on the Friday and the next day he started to complain about bad heartburn. He took some tablets and felt much better.

‘On Sunday we all went to the gym. He went into the gym for a weights session the joined us in the pool. He was very fit and always serious about maintaining his fitness. He complained about more pain but took some more tablets.’

Danielle said Steve played squash on Monday morning but then agreed to go to the walk-in centre in Oadby with her later.

‘They took his blood pressure and checked him over. They gave him some tablets and said he seemed to be okay but told him to go to hospital if his condition got worse,’ she said.

That night at the house they were having renovated, Steve popped the question to Danielle.

‘It was wonderful,’ she said. ‘He meant it. I said yes. He told me he had ordered the ring that Maisie had helped to pick.

‘We were like a couple of kids being all excited about spending the rest of our lives together.’

The next day, Steve went to work at the digital design business he had set up. Danielle, a self-employed hairdresser, went to work at a salon in Market

Bosworth then come home to cut the hair of a client at her home. They shared lovey-dovey texts then Steve complained again of heartburn.

Danielle said: ‘I was worried and texted him to say so. He texted back saying: ‘I’m okay now. Don’t worry about me. It’s good.’ That was the last text he sent me.’

Shortly after, Danielle got call from one of Steve’s work colleagues in Blaby telling her he had collapsed.

She said: ‘I rushed there but there was already an ambulance there. Paramedics were working on Steve. He passed away there, at his office.

‘His colleagues told me that Steve was laughing and joking to the end. They said he was cracking jokes as he was sitting in his seat. Apparently, he tried to stand up, then sat back down and closed his eyes and that was it. He collapsed.’

Danielle said she has been told that Steve was suffering from an undiagnosed heart condition.

‘It means he could have died at any time,’ she said. ‘There was nothing anyone could have done.’

Danielle told how she first met Steve on a night out in Leicester city centre 11 years ago.

‘I was with friends in the Fat Cat Bar when I had to go to the loo. I walked past this guy and he pinched my bum. I could not believe it. I glared at him to let him know in was not impressed at all.

‘When I came back from the toilet he did it again. I was stunned but his bare-faced cheek made me laugh. I said to him: ‘If you want a lady’s number perhaps you should just ask.’

‘We got together after that night. It was typical of Steve – he was a really cheeky, super-confident arrogant lad. But he was lovely with it.’

Danielle said she was less than impressed when Steve told her he had played rugby for Leicester Tigers.

‘He asked what I did and I told him I was hairdresser,’ she said. ‘I asked him what he did and he said he was a rugby player.

‘I said: ‘Yes but what do you actually do for a real job?’ He laughed and said he was a rugby coach but had been a player.

‘He told me all about the rugby but it did not mean much to me. I think he kind of liked that.

‘Steve got lots of praise and respect from lots of people for his rugby but he quite liked the fact that with me it was all about us.’

She said that Steve loved to play the joker but was serious about providing for his partner and their two children: ‘Although he was always cracking jokes and looking to be cheeky and have fun, he was also pragmatic.

‘He set up his own business so that we as a family we would have a secure future.

‘That is what makes this whole thing so really cruel and so hard to take. Everything was going so well, as good as it had ever been for us.

‘We had just had a fabulous family holiday, the renovations on the house were going well, he had just asked me to marry him and we were busy making plans for our wedding in Mexico next year and for the whole of our future together. Now Steve is not with us, that has all been taken from us.’

Danielle said she has decided to pick up the ring her husband-to-be had ordered for her.

‘I will wear it in memory of Steve.’ she said. ‘It’s just a shame that after all this time he won’t get to place it on my finger.’