Long-serving Northern Ireland kitman Derek McKinley passes away
The Irish Football Association have announced that former kitman for the Northern Irish football team Derek McKinley has died.
McKinley first acted as kitman for the national side in 1981 and worked tirelessly for the side for 30 years until his retirement in 2011 after a European qualifier in Italy, working at an incredible 230 games over a wonderful career.
The former Portadown goalkeeper went to the World Cup in '82 and '86 with the team and was the go-to man within the squad for many of the players when they needed something, becoming close friends with a great many of the players.
It was a testament to how beloved McKinley was within Northern Irish footballing circles that 30 international players, past and present, attended a testimonial dinner for him in the Culloden Hotel after his retirement, including eight of those World Cup squads.
As well as being kitman for Northern Ireland, he also served time with Portadown, Lisburn Distillery, Glentoran and Knockbreda, and upon his retirement he served as an ambassador for the IFA's Football For All campaign.
Derek was also the father of Belfast Telegraph sports journalist Stuart McKinley, and our condolences go out to all the family and friends of Derek at this very sad time.
Belfast Telegraph Digital