Derry City FC captain Ryan McBride mourned by club and praised for inspiration
A Northern Irish football club captain was an inspiration to teammates mourning his sudden death, his side has said.
Derry City FC's 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 President Michael D Higgins were among those expressing condolences.
The fans' favourite lived beside his club's Brandywell ground where he had played since 2011 and his club said he would be remembered by teammates and supporters as one of the greats.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
"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."
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."
A funeral notice confirmed that the funeral would take place at St Columba's Church in Derry on Thursday.
The funeral cortege is scheduled to leave his home at 9.20am for requiem Mass at 10am, with interment to follow in the city cemetery.