‘He led boys to become men’ – Tributes follow death of Derry City captain at 27

Ryan McBride

Ryan McBride led Derry City to a 4-0 victory over Drogheda United on Saturday

Tributes have been paid to Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who has died at the age of 27.

The defender died a day after leading his side in a 4-0 victory over Drogheda United in the League of Ireland Premier Division, in the Republic of Ireland.

He was found dead at home, but the cause of death is not yet known.

“He epitomised everything about our club and our city and everybody was so proud of him,” said Derry City chief executive Sean Barrett.

“We’re all in a state of shock here. Ryan was such a popular captain, of the words that have been thrown around probably my favourite one is ‘warrior’.

“He led boys to become men and he was a man. He was everything that is associated with Derry City Football Club and indeed the whole city.”

Mr Barrett said a port-mortem was being carried out and the results could be known later on Monday.

McBride’s funeral will take place on Thursday at 10:00 GMT at St Columba’s Church in Derry, after which the player will be buried in the city cemetery.

Derry City manager Kenny Shiels said the death was “hard for everybody to take”.

“The players loved Ryan,” he said. “He was the perfect example to any young player coming through.”

The Irish Football Association tweeted: “Thoughts tonight with the family of Ryan McBride and everyone involved with Derry City FC.”

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Ryan McBride: ‘A perfect example to any young player’

Derry City released an official statement on Monday afternoon saying the team will “miss his inspiration and his leadership”.

The statement went on to say: “In the hearts and minds of all of us, and long into the future, Ryan McBride will be remembered as one of the greats of Derry City Football Club.”

Phil O’Doherty, Derry City Football Club chairman, said the team was “devastated”.

“He started the season so well and scored a really important goal against Shamrock Rovers recently,” he told the BBC.

“The players and management staff are in shock and it’s an extremely tough time for everyone.”

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Mr O’Doherty said McBride “was a leader on and off the field”.

“He was incredibly respected. He was an ideal captain,” he said.

“He was from the Brandywell area and he just walked across the road to his home after every game.”

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Ryan McBride of Derry City<!–

Profile: Ryan McBride

Since his debut in 2011, McBride had not only become a mainstay of the club’s defence, but an adored hero of Derry City’s Red-and-White Army – an embodiment of the local football ideal.

He made more than 170 appearances for the club, with more than 50 as captain after he took over the role permanently two years ago.

A self-professed quiet man off the pitch, McBride said things were a “different story” on it.

“I switch on and then I’m in game mode.”

Read more on ‘the bravest I’ve ever seen on the pitch’

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The CEO of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), John Delaney, said Irish football was in mourning.

“Ryan’s passing has left a deep shock throughout football,” he said. “We will remember Ryan with a tribute at Friday night’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Wales.”

As a mark of respect, the League of Ireland game between Derry City and Limerick, due to take place on 21 March, will be rescheduled.

Ryan McBride’s death is the latest tragedy to beset the club following the death of striker Mark Farren and the Buncrana pier tragedy which claimed the lives of winger Josh Daniels’ family members a year ago.

‘A lot of tragedy’

Former Derry City striker Liam Coyle said: “My brother phoned me to tell me and I was in total disbelief.

Derry City player Barry McNamee leaving a press conference following his team captain's death<!–

Derry City player Barry McNamee leaving a press conference following his team captain’s death

“I played football with Ryan’s father and Ryan was always a rising star.

“The club has been through a lot of tragedy, but the people of Derry will provide a lot of support to his family and friends.

“Derry City has lost the best centre half in Ireland.”

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Derry City players leave Ryan McBride press conference

DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted: “My deepest condolences to the family and all Derry City FC as they mourn the loss of the talented Ryan McBride. Such devastating news.”

Archbishop Eamon Martin said: “Sad news from Derry. Praying for the family and for his many friends and supporters who will miss him. Lord have mercy. RIP.”

‘Big gentleman’

The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, tweeted: “Along with all those who support Irish football, I express my sadness and condolences to the family of Derry City Football Club captain Ryan McBride.”

Republic of Ireland footballer James McClean, a former team mate of McBride at Derry City, said he was “a warrior that literally would throw his body on the line when he pulled on that Derry City jersey, a club that meant so much to him”.

He said that McBride was a “big gentleman off the field”, adding: “Sleep tight big man. May God bless you and your family.”

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