Ronan Keating's emotional tribute to his 'brother' Stephen ahead of final journey

"Our world changed forever when we lost our friend and brother Stephen."

That was how Ronan Keating summed up the turmoil the four grieving Boyzone members have gone through since losing their bandmate Stephen Gately.

Flanked by Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch, the singer was speaking in Spain.

It was there that Stephen died last Saturday aged 33, and from there that his body was due to be repatriated.

Ronan added: "We have come to Majorca today to accompany our pal on his final journey back to Dublin, where we know he will be given an unforgettable send off tomorrow."

Thanking fans for their "countless messages of love and support", the pop star even summoned up a smile and a humorous remark.

Stephen, he said, "loved being centre stage" and was probably "looking down on us now wishing we'd move over so he could flash his smile for the cameras one more time".

The send off he was referring to, which is taking place in a church on the street where Stephen grew up, will reportedly include a song by the guys.

A private family mass is to be held on Friday night, followed by an overnight vigil in St Lawrence O'Toole Church by his four colleagues.

"Stephen's mother didn't want him to be alone in the dark, so Ronan, Keith, Mikey and Shane have stepped up and will sit with Stephen's body," their heartbroken manager Louis Walsh explained.

"He was like their little brother and they want to be a friend to him in death as he was to them in life".