Mural is unveiled for tragic Derry City captain Ryan McBride
A poignant mural dedicated to the late Derry City FC captain Ryan McBride has been unveiled on a gable wall overlooking his beloved Brandywell football grounds.
It was painted by artist Ray Bonner on the wall of the Long Tower Youth Club and depicts Ryan celebrating a goal, standing proud in his number five jersey alongside the crest of his much-loved Derry City FC.
A special day of celebration in honour of the young captain, as part of the Gasyard Feile, saw hundreds of children take to the streets around Ryan's home in the shadow of the Brandywell Stadium to play football in his honour.
The 27-year-old died suddenly at his Brandywell home on March 19. He had returned from training and told his family he was going to bed. His sister Caitlin found him dead in bed later that evening. Hundreds, including many sporting names, as well as Irish President Michael D Higgins, lined the streets as his coffin, draped in his number five jersey, made its way to the family church at Long Tower.
Ryan's father Lexie described the mural as 'beautiful' and said that the community has been a huge comfort to him as the family navigated the dark days after Ryan's passing.
"The mural is really beautiful," he said. "If you look out the back window of our house you can see it.
"Our family are still very much in shock over Ryan's death but my grandchildren have been a huge source of comfort to me, my daughter had a baby just a few weeks ago.
"The whole city got behind us after Ryan died. We never thought that he was so well thought of. I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support, it meant a lot.
"Our Ryan was a big gentleman. I never heard him argue or fight with anyone, all he wanted to do was play football. This mural is just him."
The Candystripes' current captain, Gerard Doherty, said the day was an emotional one for the players who were like brothers to Ryan, but the team's manager, Kenny Shiels, said that because of the mural, and the work of the Ryan McBride Foundation, Ryan's legacy will live on.
His 26-year-old sister Caitlin runs the Ryan McBride Foundation, whose goal is to help young people to realise their full potential and aims to support, assist and inspire young players to achieve what Ryan achieved.
"It's lovely to see all the young players out today playing football, just like Ryan," she said. "There is no better tribute to a man who loved football so much."