Belfast Telegraph

Derry City squad pay moving tribute to 'irreplaceable' captain Ryan McBride

By Leona O'Neill

Heartbroken Derry City players paid tribute to their "irreplaceable" captain Ryan McBride yesterday, vowing to keep making him proud.

The 27-year-old defender was found dead at his home on Sunday, a day after he led his side out in a 4-0 League of Ireland win over Drogheda United.

On Monday night, team-mates held onto one another and wept openly as they carried their beloved skipper home, his coffin draped in his number five jersey past the Brandywell Stadium.

Among the flowers was a special tribute from team-mate and friend, striker Ronan Curtis.

"I'm going to miss your encouragement but I know you'll be looking down on us and keeping us right," he wrote on the card.

"Enjoy those beautiful pitches up there and think of us while having a kick around. We will all try and do you proud. Devastated, so sleep tight big man till we meet again."

And yesterday his fellow team-mates took to social media to pay a special tribute to their captain. Josh Daniels, who lost five members of his family in the Buncrana Pier tragedy, posted a picture of the team standing arm-in-arm together on the pitch and said his skipper had a huge impact on all the players.

He tweeted: "Together on the pitch and we will be together through this hard time and further. You've left a mark with us all in such a short time." Derry City forward Rory Patterson also said he was heartbroken at the loss.

"You are irreplaceable and I can't explain how much of a man you were," he said.

"I'm absolutely heartbroken that I'll never walk onto a football pitch behind you again or have you jumping all over me after a goal.

"On and off the pitch there's nobody you'd want on your side more than you.

"I love you big man and I can't bear to think how much you're going to be missed. Sleep well dinger."

Star midfielder Aaron McEneff described McBride as a "warrior" and a "legend".

"As a team-mate and as a good friend, words can't describe the feeling of losing you," he said.

"A warrior on the pitch and what a guy off it.

"From watching him play as a young boy, playing with him and getting to know him as a person, only one word to describe this man is legend.

"We'll stay strong and pull together for you big man. Rest in peace captain, you're gone but you'll never be forgotten."️

Ryan McBride's funeral Mass will be held at St Columba's Church, Long Tower, tomorrow at 10am. Burial will be at the City Cemetery directly afterwards.

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