Gary Rhodes said "life couldn’t be better" days before he died from a brain injury, a close friend revealed on Thursday. Picture: AP

Dubai - Gary Rhodes said "life couldn’t be better" days before he died from a brain injury, a close friend revealed on Thursday.

The celebrity chef collapsed at his home in Dubai after enjoying a quiet dinner with his wife Jennie.

He had returned home in a "happy mood" following a successful day of filming a new ITV series. The 59-year-old, described as "fit and healthy" by friends, was taken to hospital where he died on Tuesday night from a bleed to the brain, known as a subdural haematoma, with Jennie by his side.

Friend and fellow chef Vineet Bhatia said Rhodes was "full of energy and life" when they last saw each other at the weekend. Bhatia said: "He came to my restaurant here in Dubai to do some filming. Gary was his usual bright and happy self when I last saw him a couple of days before he died and it’s hard to believe I’ll never see him smile again.

"He was in such good spirits. His last words to me were: 'Life couldn’t be better.' His older son Sam was with him when we were together and he seemed to be on top form. There was absolutely no sign of what was to come and I still can’t take it in."

On Thursday night it was unclear what caused the chef to collapse. When he was 19 he suffered a blood clot on the brain after he was hit by a van while working at the Hilton in Amsterdam. He needed eight hours of brain surgery.

Doctors warned him of the risks of another head injury – which led him to give up playing football. On Thursday his family said: "After a successful day shooting with Rock Oyster Media for ITV here in Dubai, Gary returned home in a very happy mood for a peaceful evening with his wife Jennie.

"After dinner, Gary unfortunately collapsed in their residence and was rushed to hospital but unfortunately passed away due to subdural hematoma."

Rhodes – who championed British cuisine and appeared on TV shows including 'MasterChef', 'Strictly' and his own 'Rhodes Around Britain' series – ran two restaurants in Dubai. Floral tributes were placed outside one of them, Rhodes W1, with a note which said: "You will always be in our thoughts and hearts."

His younger son George, 29, wrote on social media: "My dad was the most loving, caring man. I miss you so much already. Love you dad."

Daily Mail