The death of a former Accrington Stanley football player was drug-related, a coroner has ruled.

Steve Jagielka - the older brother of former England and Everton defender Phil – was instrumental in helping Accrington Stanley gain promotion to the Football League in 2006, and scored nine goals for the club in 68 games between 2004 and 2006.

The 43-year-old, who was preparing to move house, was found dead after a cousin called at his home in Rodington Heath, Shropshire, on Monday March 15, a hearing at Shrewsbury’s Shirehall was told.

The Sale-born midfielder, who made more than 170 appearances for Shrewsbury Town between 1997 and 2003, had been working as a fitter in the Manchester area before his death and had been packing up items at his property, Shropshire Coroner John Ellery heard.

Statements read to the inquest said post-mortem examinations had shown that Mr Jagielka, who had no significant past medical history, died from aspiration pneumonia caused by methadone toxicity.

Mr Ellery also heard that there had been reports of possible cocaine use in the days prior to the ex-footballer’s death – with samples showing high levels of methadone and “moderate” levels of cocaine.

Police were called to Mr Jagielka’s house by a neighbour, after the former sportsman’s cousin alerted them to what had happened, the inquest was told.

An investigation found no suspicious circumstances at the property, where the electricity had “run out” and “it was clear that the house was in the process of being packed up”.

In a statement at the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Jagielka’s ex-wife, Jo Fallows, said: “Steve had a lasting impact on many people’s lives.

“This is how we would like him to be remembered – a fun-loving and charming character. He will be missed by his three children, myself and all his family and friends. RIP Steve.”

Reaching his conclusion after the short hearing, Mr Ellery said: “The medical cause of death is given as aspirational pneumonia due to methadone toxicity.

“There is no suggestion that Steve’s death was deliberate and I record that his death was drug-related.”

Speaking after the hearing, Miss Fallows said of her ex-husband, who worked locally for Caterpillar after his football career ended, and had his own plumbing business: “Wherever he went, everybody knew him.

"Football had been his passion and all he had ever known.

“I think the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) should help them a little bit more."

After playing for Shrewsbury, Jagielka went on to play for Accrington Stanley and also had spells at Sheffield United and AFC Telford United.

In a statement issued shortly after his death, the South Yorkshire club said: “Sheffield United is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former player Steve Jagielka – brother of current defender Phil – at the age of 43.

“The condolences of all at the Blades are with Phil and the rest of the Jagielka family at this difficult time.”