Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has offered his condolences to the family of Derry City skipper Ryan McBride following his death at the age of 27.
The defender, a close friend of Republic of Ireland midfielder James McClean, is understood to have died at home on Sunday.
Speaking after putting the Republic squad through their paces at Abbotstown on Monday, O’Neill said: “It is tragic.
“I didn’t know the young lad personally myself, but James McClean is a very good friend of his. James is devastated by the news, obviously his family is as well. It’s a really tragic event.
“You get things like this almost on a daily basis and it’s puts football and sport in some sort of perspective.
“James, who is probably the closest to him and his family, if there’s anything that he feels he wants to do, then I would certainly give him the time to do so.”
O’Neill’s comments were echoed by Ireland striker Jonathan Walters and defender John Egan.
Walters said: “It really puts things into perspective. We send our deepest condolences from the squad here and everyone involved.”
Egan added: “It’s very sad news. To hear that a young man in his prime has passed away is very sad. Especially the Derry lads who know him, it will hit them hard.
“The lads have kind of mentioned it in the squad, but it’s very sad news and obviously we’re all thinking of his family and friends at this time and hoping that they’re okay.”
The Football Association of Ireland will pay tribute to McBride at Friday night’s World Cup qualifier against Wales at the Aviva Stadium, while Derry’s Airtricity League fixtures against and Limerick and Galway and all Tuesday night’s scheduled EA Sports Cup first round fixtures have been postponed as a mark of respect.
FAI chief executive John Delaney said: “Irish football is in mourning with the loss of a true great of the game, with the shocking news about Ryan McBride’s passing.
“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.
“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. We will remember Ryan with a tribute at Friday night’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Wales.”
Derry described McBride as “one of the greats” whose leadership would be missed.
A statement on the club’s official Facebook page read: “Derry City Football Club is deeply saddened by the untimely death of our captain, Ryan McBride.
“Our prayers and thoughts are with his father, Lexie, his sisters Colleen, Siuinin and Caitlain, and his partner Mairead, who are heartbroken at his loss.
“We are also conscious of his team-mates and our management and support staff. Ryan was a player and a great captain, but he was also their friend and team-mate. They are deeply shocked and will miss his inspiration and his leadership.
“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.”
The Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland confirmed that McBride’s 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 internment to follow in the city cemetery.