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'He was the bravest player I've ever seen on a football pitch'

Ryan McBride’s former manager, Stephen Kenny, has paid an emotional tribute to the late Derry player.

Ryan McBride was found dead at his home last night.
Ryan McBride was found dead at his home last night.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Updated at 12.59

RYAN MCBRIDE’S FORMER manager Stephen Kenny has issued a heartfelt tribute to the late footballer in the wake of his death last night.

The Dundalk boss, who handed the defender his League of Ireland debut in 2011 during his stint in charge of Derry, paid an emotional tribute to him in an interview on Morning Ireland earlier today.

Kenny was in the RTÉ studios for the FAI Awards last night to receive the Special Merit award on behalf of his trailblazing Dundalk side when he first heard the news.

“The word came through that Ryan was dead and I couldn’t believe it,” Kenny said.

These days, anything is possible with social media, so I actually didn’t believe it when I (first) heard the news.”

McBride’s death came less than a week after he had scored against Kenny’s Dundalk side, and the centre-back had played all four matches in the Candystripes’ unbeaten run so far this season.

A Derry native who lived right across from the Brandywell — the club’s home stadium, which is currently being redeveloped — Kenny added to the many tributes that have been paid since the 27-year-old’s sudden passing.

“He was playing with a Saturday morning league team — Brandywell Harps. It was a massive jump to go from there to the (Derry) first team

He made his debut against Shamrock Rovers, which RTÉ covered live in 2011. Brian McDermott, the Reading manager, came to watch James McClean. I spoke to him after the game. They came over to see if they wanted to buy James at that stage. (Brian) came to me and said ‘we’re not going to sign James but what about Ryan McBride? We’re interested in signing Ryan.’ That was his debut.

“He was just a ferociously brave player. In fact, the bravest player I’ve ever seen on a football pitch. He was very committed — every fan’s favourite player and a great captain of Derry City.

He’d have been a big hero in the city. Everyone there would have viewed him as one of their own who’s come through the system and captained the team for a number of years. It’s a real tragedy.

“He just launched himself at every challenge and was really aggressive in the air, to a fault nearly. That’s what endeared him to everyone.”

Meanwhile, Derry City have today issued a statement in reaction to McBride’s passing. It reads: “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 teammates and our management and support staff. Ryan was a player and a great captain but he was also their friend and teammate. 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.

We are also conscious that this is the anniversary of the death of the members of the McGrotty and Daniels family in Buncrana and it is only a short time since we remembered Mark Farren’s death.

“It is at times like this that we are reminded that our Club is also a community of people. As in the past, that community will come together to comfort and support Ryan’s family.

In the coming days and weeks we will grieve the loss of our captain and our friend. Sometime in the future, when we have got past the initial shock and have had the proper space to grieve his loss, we will find a way to celebrate his life. We will remember his civility and humility off the field, his commitment and passion on it and the deep love he carried in his heart for Derry City Football Club.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”

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