Portadown legend Alfie Stewart has paid tribute to former team-mate Kevin McKeever who has passed away, aged 53, describing the midfielder as a ‘gentleman’ and ‘worth his weight in gold’ to the greatest side in the club’s history.
There was sadness across Irish football this week when it was announced that ex-Ports, Glentoran and Derry City ace McKeever had died.
A towering figure, committed, versatile and affectionately known as “Tree” by Ports supporters, the most successful period in McKeever’s career came under the iconic Ronnie McFall at Shamrock Park where he played 189 times between 1987 and 1993 and was part of the team’s history making title winning squads in 1990 and 1991.
Defender Stewart, who played alongside McKeever, said: “I was shocked and saddened to hear about Kevin’s passing. I was his travelling partner for around four years and he was a big gentleman with a big, big heart.
“I enjoyed travelling with him miles and miles across the country and you will not find anyone that played for Portadown or any of the fans who have anything other than good things to say about Kevin McKeever.
“Kevin was a genial giant of a man. He was also part of the greatest Portadown team ever and was a vital component of that team. The big man was always there ready to do what was required. He would have played through injuries and anywhere he was asked to play. He was worth his weight in gold.
“He was such a good professional and Ronnie McFall was no mug because he realised when he signed Kevin that he was a very versatile player. He could play centre-back, I watched him play at full-back, which was unusual for a guy of his height, he played in central midfield and up front. I even saw him doing goals in an emergency situation.
“Kevin was a man who you could have thrown a shirt to and he did a great job for you
“In that era we had Stevie Cowan, Sandy Fraser and Joey Cunningham, what I would call the superstars of that team. Big Kev alongside the likes of Davy Mills, who has also sadly died, was rock solid and dependable and a player.
“Kevin could have gone a month sometimes not getting a look in the way the team was playing but whenever you needed him he turned up, worked his socks off, filled a gap wherever it needed filled and scored a vital goal. He was incredible.
“The first year Portadown won the league he played a prominent role. We had quite a few injuries that season and Kevin was very important to the team. He will be sadly missed and I send condolences to his family.”