HEARTBROKEN husband John McAreavey was paralysed by grief and left unable to speak when he answered calls from his concerned teammates in Mauritius, friends revealed last night.
Mr McAreavey's friends told the Irish Independent that an Irish priest has been by his side in the paradise island since his wife Michaela's murder.
Friends had been frantically trying to reach him to offer some small words of comfort while he waited for his brother, Brian, and Michaela's brother, Mark, to arrive.
Mr McAreavey's childhood friend Francis Downey fought back tears as he explained that he only wanted to tell the couple's love story to save the family from having to do it, and to allow them space to grieve.
Mr McAreavey was a "lad's lad" until he clapped eyes on Michaela. The pair were attending Queen's University Belfast when they first met over five years ago.
He was there on the night when John and Michaela first met. He will never forget how much love the pair shared from their first encounter.
"She should be remembered as the nicest person you could ever meet. She was a loving woman, she loved her family, she loved football, she loved religion, she would have done anything to help anyone," he said.
Mr Downey and two other teammates of Mr McAreavey's Co Down club Tullylish, where he is captain, are still in complete shock at what happened.
They were all at the couple's wedding in St Malachy's Church in Tyrone and later in the luxury surrounds of the Slieve Russell Hotel in Cavan on December 30.
The last day Mr Downey spoke to Mr McAreavey and Michaela was on December 31 -- the day Michaela turned 27 and celebrations continued into the second day of the wedding.
The family and friends went for a meal in the restaurant to toast the happy couple.
However, happiness has now turned to absolute devastation.
"Anger doesn't come close to what we feel about what was done to Michaela. It's not going to bring her back. If we could do anything, we'd do it," said Mr Downey.
Justin McCartan, who was an usher at the couple's wedding, said all the couple ever wanted was to get married.
"There was a great buzz about their house, a buzz about the wedding, they were just so happy-go-lucky," he said.
Another of John's teammates, Kevin Murphy, said John and Michaela were "on a high" but everyone is now devastated.
The footballers described how the community will be by John's side to help him through this terrible time. They have received phonecalls from the couple's friends scattered all over the world offering support and prayers.
They can't bring Michaela back for their best friend but they desperately want to protect Mr McAreavey. "We need to allow him to come home now and properly grieve for Michaela," said Mr Downey.