Derry City FC captain Ryan McBride (27) praised as 'inspiration'
Derry City FC club captain was an inspiration to teammates mourning his sudden death, the team has said in a statement.
Ryan McBride was a talismanic defender and on-pitch leader who died at the age of 27 on Sunday night at home in the shadow of his team's ground. The cause is unknown.
Former Liverpool FC strikers Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore and the president of Ireland Michael D Higgins were among those expressing condolences.
The fans' favourite lived beside his club's Brandywell ground where he has played since 2011 and his club said he would be remembered by teammates and supporters as one of the greats.
Requeim Mass will be celebrated at St Columba's Church in Derry at 10am on Thursday.
A Derry City statement said: "Ryan was a player and a great captain but he was also their friend and teammate.
"They are deeply shocked and will miss his inspiration and his leadership."
He leaves his "heartbroken" father Lexie, sisters Colleen, Siunin and Caitlain and partner Mairead.
Martin O'Neill admits football has been put in perspective by the sad passing of Ryan McBride at the weekend. pic.twitter.com/wU3mc3QnvH— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) March 20, 2017
The club added: "Our supporters are also shocked and saddened. To them, Ryan was Derry City through and through.
"The commitment and passion he brought on to the field is the bond that binds player and supporter.
"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."
His last match was a 4-0 triumph over Drogheda United in the League of Ireland Premier Division on Saturday, the top league in the Republic of Ireland.
McBride made his debut for his home town club six years ago and was a firm favourite thanks in part to his committed style of defending.
Sincere condolences to the friends and family of Ryan McBride, Derry City skipper who tragically died today. Terrible news, was only 27.— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) March 19, 2017
He played more than 100 league matches for Derry.
The club's SSE Airtricity Premier League game against Limerick on Tuesday has been postponed.
Its statement said everybody was deeply saddened.
"It is at times like this that we are reminded that our club is also a community of people.
"As in the past, that community will come together to comfort and support Ryan's family."
This is the second tragedy to strike the team in just over a year.
Ex-Derry City and Glenavon striker Mark Farren died aged 33 in February 2016.
Derry's record goalscorer had been receiving treatment for an aggressive brain tumour.
A year ago, Derry player Josh Daniels lost his mother, sister, brother-in-law and nephews in the Buncrana pier tragedy.
A car slid off the pier and entered Lough Swilly.
John Delaney, chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland, said Irish football was in mourning after losing a "true great of the game".
"I would like to pass on my deepest condolences to Ryan's family, friends, and his club, Derry City FC, for which he was their leader, their captain and their inspiration," he said.
Extremely sad news about the sudden death of Ryan Mcbride the captain of Derry City. Thoughts go out to his family.— Chris Sutton (@chris_sutton73) March 20, 2017
"On behalf of the FAI Board and everyone in the Association, I would like to offer our sympathies to all who were blessed to have known Ryan.
"Ryan's passing has left a deep shock throughout football."
A special tribute to McBride will be made at the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Wales in Dublin on Friday.
"Along with all those who support Irish football, I express my sadness and condolences to the family of @derrycityfc Captain Ryan McBride."— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) March 20, 2017
Shane Ross, the Republic's Sports Minister, said: "I send my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Ryan at this difficult time.
"His passing at such a young age is a tragedy and shocking for everyone at Derry City FC."
Democratic Unionist leader and former Stormont first minister Arlene Foster tweeted: "My deepest condolences to the family and all derrycityfc as they mourn the loss of the talented Ryan McBride. Such devastating news."
Sinn Fein Assembly member for Foyle Raymond McCartney said there was widespread shock in Derry.
Terribly sad news hearing Derry City footballer Ryan McBride has passed away. Thoughts are with Ryan's family and close friends. ?— John Hartson (@JohnHartson10) March 19, 2017
"Ryan was an excellent player, a great leader on and off the field, and an inspiration to many," he said.
"I send my condolences and those of the party to the McBride family and everyone who knew Ryan.
"I have no doubt the community across the city will rally round to support them at this sad and difficult time."
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, also tweeted condolences: "Sad news from £Derry Praying for family of £ryanmcbride and for his many friends and supporters who will miss him. Lord have mercy. RIP."