Frankie Cocozza pays tribute to his best friend killed after single punch to the head
FORMER X Factor star Frankie Cocozza has spoken for the first time about the devastation of burying his best friend.
Connor Saunders, 19, was killed during an altercation between two groups of people in last month.
Police believe Mr Saunders, from Brighton, was punched in the head on the night of April 14. He died the following day.
Cocozza, 19, who was one of the pallbearers at his friend's funeral on Friday, said he was proud to learn that the talented footballer had signed up as an organ donor when he turned 16, meaning he went on to save five other lives.
He told The Sun: "When I found out that his organs were used to save five other young people's lives I had never felt prouder. There are five people out there who have the chance of a future now - all because of him.
"I just wish there was a way of letting them know just how special the man was who is part of them now. I reckon every one of them will go on to achieve something amazing now, all because of my mate."
He told the paper he is still struggling to come to terms with the loss of his friend who he had known since the age of three, and that he was honoured when Mr Saunders' mother Darran asked him to be a pallbearer.
He said: "When she said she wanted me to carry him in I knew it would be hard - but I had to do it.
"I've no doubt that if things had turned out the other way round Connor would have been the first to say that he would carry me. I wanted to do that one last thing for him."
The teenager told The Sun that his friend was always in his thoughts and that he did not know who he was supposed to look up to any more.
He said: "Connor was how I hoped eventually to turn out myself. He was the bloke that everyone looked up to as an example of how you should live your life.
"On the surface I seemed to be the one with everything - the fame and the girls. But it was me who envied what Connor had rather than the other way round.
"He had a lovely girlfriend and wasn't afraid of responsibilities, getting up at five most mornings so he could go to the gym then start work at 7am.
"Before X Factor, when I spent my days smoking weed while my mum was at work, he'd turn round to me and say, 'Come on Frankie, sort yourself out.'
"He never judged me - he just wanted me to make something of myself."
A 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been charged with Mr Saunders' manslaughter and will appear in court on Tuesday.
Two boys aged 13 and 14, who were both arrested on suspicion of murder following Mr Saunders death, were told by Sussex Police on Monday that no further action would be taken against them at this time.