Video: Tributes pour in after tragic death of former Republic of Ireland international Alan McLoughlin, aged 54
Irish soccer is mourning the passing of Alan McLoughlin, the man whose goal took the Republic of Ireland to the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States.
McLoughlin died yesterday at the age of 54 following a long battle with cancer.
He was capped 42 times by Ireland and wrote himself into the nation's sporting folklore with the equaliser he scored in a World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park on November 17 1993, the goal which sent Jack Charlton's men to the USA the following summer.
He was included in the Republic of Ireland squad for both Italia 90 and USA 94. He also won the Republic of Ireland ‘Player of the Year’ award in 1996 and his last cap was in a 1-1 draw against Macedonia in November 1999.
The former Portsmouth midfielder revealed in March he was preparing to undergo a course of radiotherapy following surgery to remove a tumour from his vertebrae, nine years after being diagnosed with a kidney tumour.
His death was confirmed in a statement issued by the Football Association of Ireland, which offered its condolences to his wife Deby and their daughters Abby and Megan.
It said: "The Football Association of Ireland extends our deepest sympathies to Deby, Abby and Megan McLoughlin following the death today of our former international midfielder Alan McLoughlin at the age of 54.
"Alan had bravely faced into a second battle with cancer in recent months with his courage in adversity an example to all those who knew him and loved him."
McLoughlin also said he was told in November 2019 that the cancer had spread to his remaining kidney, his chest wall and lung, and that he had been rushed to hospital earlier this year with a fractured neck after his vertebrae had crumbled.
The midfielder began his career as an apprentice at home-town club Manchester United, but after spells at Swindon and Southampton, it was at Portsmouth where he found a home, making more than 350 appearances in a seven-year stay.
A tribute to Alan McLoughlin— FAIreland ?? (@FAIreland) May 4, 2021
We will always have that night in November pic.twitter.com/A4b6CVQBAR
Former Portsmouth team-mate Alan Knight said: ''You couldn't get a more genuine and dependable man as Macca as a person or in his professional career. You could trust him with your life - both on and off the pitch.
‘‘He would tell you as it was, he'd tell you as he thought and everyone that knew him appreciated those qualities that he had.
‘’Genuine is a great word to describe him. You'll never have anyone have a bad word to say about him.’’
McLoughlin and Knight helped the Blues reach the FA Cup semi-finals in 1992, with McLoughlin netting the famous winner against Nottingham Forest in the last eight.
‘‘He's a God for the Republic of Ireland for that goal he scored to get them into the 1994 World Cup and everyone remembers the goal for us against Nottingham Forest to get us into the FA Cup semi-finals,’’ Knight told The Portsmouth News.
‘’I was lucky enough to have played alongside him and also to have worked for him while he was coaching at the club as well.
''‘As a player, the Pompey fans adored Macca.
‘I'm rocked by the news, like all the fans and lads he's worked with as a player and a coach.’’
Irish President Michael D Higgins offered his deepest sympathy to McLoughlin’s family and said that all Republic of Ireland supporters will be greatly saddened by his tragic passing.
“Supporters of Irish soccer, and in particular those who will have followed the team during the Charlton and McCarthy eras, will have been greatly saddened by the news of the death of former Republic of Ireland international Alan McLoughlin.
‘’His passing at such an early age comes after a long battle with cancer.
‘’Sabina and I send our deepest sympathies to his family and friends, and to all those who knew him as a player for both club and country.”
FAI Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Hill added: “This is most tragic news and our thoughts now are with Alan’s wife Deby, his two daughters and his extended family.
‘’I spoke with Alan before we honoured him at the Luxembourg game in March and I know how proud he was of his 42 appearances in the Ireland jersey.
‘’He went to two World Cups with Ireland and will always be remembered for that night in November in 1983. May he rest in peace.”
YouBoysInGreen, the Twitter account of Republic of Ireland soccer supporters, said: ‘’Incredibly sad to read of the passing of Alan McLoughlin. We will never forget Windsor Park - Nov 17, 1993. We will never forget Alan McLoughlin.’’
FAI president Gerry McAnaney added: "Alan will always be remembered for that goal in Belfast 18 years ago, a goal that brought the entire country to its feet.
"He was a great player for Ireland, a fantastic footballing man who coached so many young players and a very proud family man.
"We were lucky to have him as one of our Irish football family and I know I speak on behalf of everyone involved with Irish football when I sympathise with Deby and his family at this most difficult of times."
A post on Portsmouth's official Twitter account said: "£Pompey are sad to confirm that Alan McLoughlin has passed away at the age of just 54 Rest in peace, Macca."