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Perth soccer player, 21, whose body was found being devoured by sharks during search for surfer

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A young man whose body was found being devoured by three sharks after he was swept off rocks has been identified as a promising soccer player. 

Eric Birighitti’s remains was found at Twilight Beach, near Esperence on Western Australia’s southern coast, on Tuesday afternoon.

Emergency crews were looking for the body of 57-year-old Gary Johnson, who was attacked by a great white while scuba diving with his wife, when the grisly discovery was made.

Eric Birighitti's body was found at Twilight Beach, near Esperence on Western Australia's southern coast, on Tuesday afternoon

Eric Birighitti’s body was found at Twilight Beach, near Esperence on Western Australia’s southern coast, on Tuesday afternoon

Three sharks (two pictured) were found feeding on a human corpse during the search for a diver who was mauled to death by a great white

Three sharks (two pictured) were found feeding on a human corpse during the search for a diver who was mauled to death by a great white

Three sharks were found feeding on a human corpse, with witnesses believing the body belonged to Mr Johnson.

Police later confirmed the remains belonged to the 21-year-old.

The promising young soccer star, from Perth, was on holiday with friends when he was enjoying the view at Twilight Beach on January 2, The West reported.

As Mr Birighitti walked along the rocks, he slipped and fell into the ocean.

Friends desperately attempted to pull him in but the current was too strong and he was swept out to sea.

Police, SES and volunteer services extensively looked for the 21-year-old, with the search ending when his body was found in the water off Twilight Beach on Tuesday.

He left a touching message in his tragic final Instagram post: ‘Merry Christmas everyone! As we finish off 2019, I hope everybody finds peace and is filled with love as the new year begins.’

He left a touching message in his tragic final Instagram post: 'Merry Christmas everyone! As we finish off 2019, I hope everybody finds peace and is fuilled with love as the new year begins.'

He left a touching message in his tragic final Instagram post: ‘Merry Christmas everyone! As we finish off 2019, I hope everybody finds peace and is fuilled with love as the new year begins.’

The promising young soccer star, from Perth, was on holiday with friends when he was enjoying the view at Twilight Beach on January 2

The promising young soccer star, from Perth, was on holiday with friends when he was enjoying the view at Twilight Beach on January 2

‘Shout out to all those who cannot be with us for whatever reason,’ he wrote.

‘Remember to love always, be appreciative and smile.’ 

Mr Birighitti was a promising athlete with a scholarship to play soccer at Hastings College in Nebraska and St Thomas Aquina College in New York.

Twilight Beach was closed on Tuesday afternoon after sharks were spotted feeding on a human corpse

Twilight Beach was closed on Tuesday afternoon after sharks were spotted feeding on a human corpse  

The Hasting Broncos took to social media to mourn the young star’s death.

‘The Bronco family are saddened to hear about the sudden passing of Eric Birighitti,’ they wrote.

‘Eric played for Hastings during the 2016 and 2017 season and won a national title with the team.

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‘He will be truly missed and our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.’

Friends have taken to the 21-year-old’s social media to post about the tragic loss.

‘I love you, Eric. Promise to live life to the fullest in honour of you and to stay kind,’ one person wrote. 

‘Rest in peace Eric,’ another said.

‘You were truly one of the most sweet people. you are such a special soul. Fly high up there.’

Aerial footage showed the sharks from above lurking about 150 metres off shore, with one stalking a boat (pictured)

Aerial footage showed the sharks from above lurking about 150 metres off shore, with one stalking a boat (pictured)

Emergency services are still desperately searching for missing diver Gary Johnson who was taken by a shark off Cull Island in WA on Sunday

Emergency services are still desperately searching for missing diver Gary Johnson who was taken by a shark off Cull Island in WA on Sunday

Mr Birighitti was a promising athlete with a scholarship to play soccer at Hastings College in Nebraska and St Thomas Aquina College in New York

Mr Birighitti was a promising athlete with a scholarship to play soccer at Hastings College in Nebraska and St Thomas Aquina College in New York

His body was found while emergency services were searching for the remains of 57-year-old Mr Johnson (pictured with his wife Karen)

His body was found while emergency services were searching for the remains of 57-year-old Mr Johnson (pictured with his wife Karen)

Meanwhile, the search for Mr Johnson has been called off. 

Only his tank, vest and flippers were found during days of extensive searches, which included using two remote-operated vehicles to scour the ocean floor.

Police announced on Wednesday they have suspended search operations pending any new information.

His wife Karen Milligan had put out a mayday call and unsuccessfully tried to fight off the massive sea creature as it attacked her husband.

She was then taken to hospital to be treated for shock.

In an emotional statement following his death, she described Mr Johnson as her ‘rock’ and said he was at home in the ocean.

‘We were always aware of the risks and often told each other that if we were attacked by a shark that would just be unlucky,’ she said.

‘We were completely against shark culling and I still am.’  

Mr Johnson (pictured) was a recreational diver who loved to share his passion for the ocean

Mr Johnson (pictured) was a recreational diver who loved to share his passion for the ocean

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