Love Island 2019 bosses pay tribute to Mike Thalassitis in launch episode

Series five opener dedicated to footballer following his tragic passing

Love Island 2019 has aired a tribute to former star Mike Thalassitis following his tragic death.

Tonight’s series five launch episode concluded with a dedication to the footballer, who passed away in March.

The black screen featured a photograph, alongside a message reading: “In loving memory of Mike Thalassitis, 1993-2019”.

The move represents a U-turn from bosses, who initially said the new series would not include any recognition of Mike.

Reports suggested they would instead pay respect on an ITV Hub box set of series three, which he appeared in.

However, according to the Mirror, they changed their minds after realising it was the “right thing” to do.

The newspaper’s source said: “Producers wanted to pay their respects to Mike and show his friends, family and fans that he was a part of the Love Island family and is missed deeply by everyone.

“It is a really difficult subject but they wanted to address it rather than sweep it under the carpet or pretend it hasn’t happened.”

ITV previously commented: “Everyone at ITV2 and Love Island are shocked and saddened by the terrible news about Mike.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends.”

E4 reality show Celebs Go Dating, which Mike also took part in, dedicated an episode to him in March.

Last year’s Love Island featured a tribute to Sophie Gradon on the same day news of her death broke.

The hit dating contest has faced intense scrutiny in recent weeks following the untimely losses of both islanders.

ITV has since pledged vast improvements to Love Island’s aftercare process, and released a full statement detailing its guidelines.

New measures include proactive contact with contestants for 14 months, from when they leave the show until the end of its next series.