A man who was stabbed to death during a series of fights in Essex has been named as former Tilbury FC midfielder Kevin Malthouse.

The 24-year-old from Stanford-le-Hope in Essex, was knifed in the chest at about 12.35am and died at the scene in Grays.

Three other men are in a critical condition after a series of fights broke out in Blackshots Lane in Essex in the early hours.

The brawl which involved several men, has been linked to an attack on an 18-year-old boy, who was later arrested on suspicion of murder.

The boy had been knocked unconscious a few miles away in another residential street near Chafford Hundred railway station.

Three men have now been arrested on suspicion of murder and are being held in custody. Tributes have already poured in for Malthouse. He was taken to hospital for treatment and later arrested on suspicion of murder.

Two other men, aged 22 from Grays and 21 from South Ockendon, were also arrested on suspicion of murder.

A spokesman said: "The incident in Blackshots Lane is believed to be linked to another assault, which was reported to police at 1.55am."

Detective Inspector Stuart Truss, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "Although we have made arrests, our enquiries are ongoing. A number of witnesses have already come forward and I am grateful for their assistance.

"We have been told there were a number of people in the area at the time and I want to speak to anyone who was in Blackshots Lane who saw what happened and can help us piece together the events leading up to this incident."

A spokesman for Essex Police said: "We were called at 12.35am today, Saturday July 1, with reports of a number of men fighting in Blackshots Lane.

"Officers and the ambulance service attended and found one man aged in his 20s had been stabbed in the chest. Sadly despite the efforts of paramedics, he was later pronounced deceased at the scene.

"Police received a further call shortly after 1.05am with reports three men had attended Basildon Hospital. They are currently being treated for injuries that are believed to be life threatening."

In a statement, Tilbury FC said it was 'saddened' by the death.

"The club wish to express their condolences following the sad news today of the passing of former midfielder Kevin Malthouse. Kevin aged 24, represented the club between 2011 and 2014 making 23 appearances.

"Kevin suffered a number of injuries during this time, that limited his action on the pitch. On behalf of the Players, Officials and Supporters, the club send there [sic] condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time."

People with information can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org