Friends of footballer Cody Fisher have paid tribute to him, laying flowers outside the Crane nightclub, and calling his loss “a hole that can’t be filled”.

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murder over the stabbing of the 23-year-old in a Birmingham nightclub on Boxing Day.

One friend, James Behan, told Sky News: “The impact it’s had on myself, family and friends… We were part of a friendship group that has a hole now that can’t be filled. I was out the night it happened, and it hit me like a ton of bricks.”

He went on: “He had an infectious smile, a love for life, his friends, football, his family. And it’s just tragic. Just horrendous.”

Kelsey Mooney, who said he was out with Mr Fisher just two nights before on Christmas Eve, told Sky News: “Anyone that knew him wouldn’t say a bad word about him. That’s the thing, he was just in the wrong place, at the wrong time.”

Mr Mooney said he woke up to a phone call from one of his friends, telling him: “Code’s dead”.

Following the two arrests, police said a 22-year-old man was held at an address in Birmingham city centre just after midnight on Wednesday while a second man aged 21 was arrested in London.

West Midlands Police have said the men will be questioned.

Mr Behan also hit out the security on the night at Crane nightclub, which cancelled a New Year’s Eve party following the incident, saying: “It’s very easy to cancel future sets and future nights, but the security and checks need to be stepped up massively for events like this… There just needed to be a lot more… Something like this could have been prevented, massively.”

In response to previous suggestions that security on the night was inadequate, the nightclub said: “We have a thorough search policy in place for any and all patrons entering and leaving the venue. This includes the deployment of metal detectors, pat downs, pocket checks, wallet inspections, bag searches and age verification procedures.

“Searches are conducted in accordance with SIA (Security Industry Authority) guidance and best practice. The venue is patrolled by SIA security staff whom responded to the incident as it unfolded on the night…

“On Boxing Day we had an onsite paramedic led team as per our venue policy, who arrived at the scene quickly to administer first aid to the victim until the arrival of the Ambulance Service.”

The club also said they had provided “relevant CCTV” to West Midlands Police and were assisting them with their inquiries.

Mr Fisher was stabbed on the dancefloor of the Crane nightclub in the Digbeth area of Birmingham just before 11.45pm on Monday.

Despite efforts to save him, he was pronounced dead around half an hour later.

Police said Mr Fisher had been on a night out with friends when he was approached by a group of people and stabbed.

Mr Fisher’s family said in a statement after his death: “I have lost my best friend. My family and I are asking for privacy and respectfulness at this heartbreaking time.”

Woodrow First School and Nursery, where Mr Fisher worked as a sports coach, said in a tribute on Wednesday: “Our school community is devastated with this news. Cody had a wonderful way of bringing sport to children, with a contagious smile – always smiling.

“Cody was a fabulous role model – kind, patient, and full of cheer. Our children loved working with him – they would say he was their favourite coach.

“They really gained from the values he placed on teamwork and co-operation. He made time for every one of the children and the staff. He made PE ‘cool’.”

Mr Fisher played for Stratford Town FC, who are in the Southern League Premier Division Central. He had also played for Bromsgrove Sporting.

Stratford Town’s chairman, Jed McCrory, told Sky News that “everyone is devastated by the news” and described Mr Fisher as a “talented footballer” and a “lovely, lovely young man”.

One of Mr Fisher’s friends, who played with him last season at Bromsgrove, told Sky News: “He was genuinely one of the nicest people you could hope to meet. He’d do anything for you.”

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‘Speechless’: Tribute to Cody Fisher

Police appealed for anyone who may have information that can help their investigation to contact them.

DCI Ian Ingram, from the West Midlands Police homicide team, said after the arrests: “We’re making good progress in our investigation and are building a better picture of what happened.

“We’ve been really pleased with the response from the public and have already had a number of witness accounts and images sent through, which will help with our investigation.

“It’s vital that we hear from everybody who saw any part of what happened that night – no matter how insignificant they think it might be.

“Cody’s family and friends are devastated by what happened, and we’ll continue to work to bring them answers.”