Belfast Telegraph

Derry prepares for sad farewell to football hero Ryan McBride

By Leona O'Neill

The funeral of Derry City captain Ryan McBride is taking place today.

The 27-year-old defender died suddenly at his Brandywell home on Sunday.

The funeral will take place at the family church, St Columba's Long Tower, at 10am.

Hundreds of people are expected to pack the chapel, which overlooks The Candystripes' Brandywell stadium.

The McBride family home is beside the ground where Ryan was a hero to supporters.

A number of leading sports stars are expected to be among mourners paying their final respects to the footballer nicknamed 'Captain Fantastic'.

McBride's heartbroken team-mates are expected to form a guard of honour for their skipper as he is carried into the church this morning for Requiem Mass.

He will be buried alongside his mother Noreen at Derry City Cemetery.

West Bromwich Albion and Republic of Ireland midfielder James McClean visited the wake house of his friend.

In a poignant gesture, McClean will don the number five shirt in memory of his former Derry City team-mate when the Republic face Wales tomorrow night in Dublin in a crucial World Cup qualifier.

Yesterday fans continued to mount floral tributes, jerseys and scarves on the fences at The Brandywell, which is undergoing major reconstruction. Since his debut in 2011, McBride had become a mainstay of the defence and a fans' favourite.

He made more than 170 appearances for The Candystripes - more than 50 of them as captain, after he took over the armband two years ago.

Speaking earlier this week, Derry City manager Kenny Shiels said he was "the perfect example to any young player coming through".

Club chief executive Sean Barrett said: "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."

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

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