Crowds flock to say farewell to a much-loved football hero Jon Clifford
Members of Tristar Football Club formed a Guard of Honour as hundreds of mourners gathered for the funeral of Londonderry football hero Jon Clifford.
He died at the weekend while waiting for a lung transplant.
Jon ‘Ugg' Clifford's name was synonymous with football in Derry.
Every match played in the Derry & District League last weekend began with a minute’s silence in memory of the man who founded Tristar FC, the Bogside-based team he built up with little or no initial resources.
The Tristar Flag was draped over Mr Clifford's coffin as it made its way to the Long Tower church which could not accommodate the large number who gathered to pay their final respects. Many stood in the grounds during Requiem Mass.
Tributes flowed not just from within the football fraternity but also from local politicians including MLAs Martina Anderson and Pat Ramsey. Mr Ramsey said: “Countless young people benefited from his passion for helping the development of up and coming generations. His death is a massive loss.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of a dear friend and neighbour.”
The Development Committee of Tristar FC led the tributes to Mr Cifford whom they described as “a legend”.
They said: “He had a presence about him that demanded respect and even when he was ill his main focus was football.
“His final thoughts were on his boys. Even when he was in intensive care he was texting people to get the tournament sorted and that says everything about the man.”
Derry City Councillor Shaun Gallagher recalled how he played for a youth football team run by Mr Clifford.
He said: “He was so committed to youth football.
“We all knew he was unwell but his death was still a big shock and he will be sadly missed.”