Remembering the people the sports world lost in 2018

From age-old superstars to tragic figures taken far too soon, there were many to mourn.

Tragedy touched many sports over the course of the past 12 months. Our thoughts go out to the families of these great sportspeople.


Arthur Fitzsimons

The FAI led tributes to former Ireland international and Middlesborough footballer Arthur Fitzsimons, who died in May aged 88.

Bobby Smith

Bobby Smith, the former Bray Wanderers manager who coached the likes of John O’Shea with the Ireland U15s, passed away in June.

Cyrille Regis

Soccer - League Division One - Southampton v West Bromwich Albion - The Dell Source: EMPICS Sport

Former West Bromwich Albion and England striker Cyrille Regis, who blazed a trail for black footballers in the English game, died aged 59 in January.

Davide Astori 

In March, 31-year-old Fiorentina captain Davide Astori passed away suddenly on the eve of his team’s trip to face Udinese in Serie A.

Doug Ellis

Ex-Aston Villa owner Doug Ellis, who had two spells as chairman of the Birmingham club between 1968 and 2006, died in October at the age of 94.

Goran Bunjevcevic

Soccer - FA Barclaycard Premiership - Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur Source: EMPICS Sport

Ex-Red Star Belgrade captain Goran Bunjevcevic, who played for Tottenham Hotspur between 2001 and ’06, died after an illness in June aged 45.

Henri Michel

Former France manager Henri Michel, who coached three African nations to the World Cup (Cameroon, Morocco and Ivory Coast) was 70 when he passed away in April.

Jimmy Armfield

Ex-England captain and Blackpool legend Jimmy Armfield, who was a World Cup winner in 1966, died in January at the age of 82 after a long battle with cancer. 

Jimmy McIlroy

Soccer - League Division One - Chelsea v Burnley - Stamford Bridge Source: S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport

Northern Ireland international forward Jimmy McIlroy, widely regarded as Burnley’s finest ever player, was 86 when he died in August. 

Jlloyd Samuel

In May, 35-year-old Jlloyd Samuel — the former Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers and Trinidad & Tobago defender — was killed in a car crash.

Juan Carlos Garcia

Honduran left-back Juan Carlos Garcia, who had a spell in England with Wigan Athletic, lost his battle with leukaemia in January. He was 29.

Liam Miller

Liam Miller Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Former Celtic and Manchester United midfielder Liam Miller, who won 21 caps for the Republic of Ireland, was 36 when he died in February after a battle with cancer. 

Ray Wilkins

Ray Wilkins, the former England captain whose club career saw him represent the likes of Manchester United, AC Milan and Chelsea, died in April aged 61 after a cardiac arrest. 

Ray Wilson

Ray Wilson, who played at left-back on the England team that beat West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final, passed away in May at the age of 83.

Ron Healey

PA-4386086 Source: PA Archive/PA Images

In June, ex-Ireland international goalkeeper Ron Healey — who represented the likes of Manchester City and Cardiff City — died aged 65.

Tommy Lawrence

A pivotal player in Bill Shankly’s great Liverpool side of the 1960s, Scottish goalkeeper Tommy Lawrence was 77 when he passed away in January. 

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha 

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the 60-year-old Thai owner of Leicester City, was one of five people killed in a helicopter crash outside the club’s King Power Stadium in October.

William Gomis

In September, French club Saint-Etienne confirmed the passing of their former player William Gomis, a 19-year-old defender who was reportedly shot dead in La Seyne-sur-Mer.



Aodhan O’Connor (Kerry)

The 14-year-old Dingle player died of an injury he sustained in a schools GAA match for Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne back in February. 

Aodhán O’Donnell (Derry)

Derry GAA was plunged into mourning when young Na Magha CLG hurler Aodhán O’Donnell tragically died at the age of 19. 

Christopher Colhoun (Tyrone)

Popular Pomeroy GAA player Christopher ‘Crico’ Colhoun, who was a member of Tyrone’s squad in 2007, died suddenly in January at the age of 33, leaving his wife and two young children behind.

Jerome O’Shea (Kerry)

In early December three-time All-Ireland winner Jerome O’Shea passed away at the age of 87. The Cahirciveen native, father of current Italy rugby head coach Conor, made his championship debut for the Kingdom in 1953 and after retiring presented RTÉ’s first weekly Gaelic Games television show ‘GAA World of Sport’.

Leonard Enright (Limerick)

Former Limerick and Patrickswell hurler Leonard Enright passed away in November at the age of 65, just hours after he was inducted into the GAA Hall of Fame. Considered one of the best defenders of his generation, he won three All-Stars during his career. 

Michael O’Shea (Clare)

In August, former Clare footballer Michael O’Shea died of cancer aged 37. O’Shea represented the Banner at senior level for 15 years after making his debut in 1999 and also managed the county’s U21s following his retirement.

Michéal McKeown (Louth)

Louth ladies football manager Michéal McKeown died in June at the age of 67 following a short illness. The Channonrock man was due to manage his team in the Leinster JFC opener the previous weekend, before he was taken ill. 

Paddy Clarke (Louth)

Paddy Clarke DIGITAL Louth manager Paddy Clarke celebrates in 2001. Source: INPHO

In November, Louth GAA suffered another loss with the death of Paddy Clarke, who managed the men’s senior football side from 1997 to 2001. He led the county to the All-Ireland B title and a Division 2 league crown.

Paddy Dolan (Leitrim)

Leitrim lost legendary figure Paddy Dolan in August. The Ballinamore man was chosen at right-half forward on Leitrim’s Team of the Millenium and played in five Connacht senior finals with the county, while he made his debut at the age of 16. He also represented the county at senior level in hurling.

Pat McLoughney (Offaly)

Coolderry man Pat McLoughney died in January aged 68 after a short illness. He made 54 senior appearances for the Faithful and won a Leinster SHC medal in 1980. He was a selector with the Offaly teams that lifted All-Ireland titles in 1994 and 1998. 

Rachel Kenneally (Tipperary)

Rosie Crowe and Rachel Kenneally Rachel Kenneally during the 2013 All-Ireland intermediate final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Tipperary footballer Rachel Kenneally was laid to rest in March at just 26 years old, following a battle with cancer. A talented player, she lined out with the county in the 2013 All-Ireland intermediate final.

Seamus Lagan (Derry)

Derry football legend Seamus Lagan passed away in May. The towering Glen man helped the Oak Leafers to All-Ireland minor glory in 1965 and scored six points in the All-Ireland U21 final win three years later. During his senior career, he won Ulster medals in 1975 and ’76.

Sheamus Howlin (Wexford)

Well known Wexford GAA administrator Sheamus Howlan died in December. He ran for presidency of the GAA in 2014 was the chair of the GAA’s Insurance Committee at the time of his death, having previously served as head of the Overseas Development Committee during Nickey Brennan’s presidency.

Tom Neville (Wexford)

Legendary Wexford hurler Tom Neville passed away back in October. A two-time Liam MacCarthy Cup winner with the Model County, he also won five Leinster titles and is considered one of their greatest ever players. 

Weeshie Fogarty (Kerry)

001104f1-800 Kerry GAA legend Weeshie Fogarty. Source: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Weeshie Fogarty, one of the great of broadcasting, died aged 77 in November. Fogarty served the GAA in numerous capacities, as a player, coach and referee before he made the successful move into broadcasting. He won an All-Ireland medal with Kerry in 1969.


Jack Kenneally and Shay Moloney

The 15-year-old friends and team-mates with Ennis RFC, died in a tragic drowning incident after they got into difficulty at a disused quarry on the outskirts of the Co. Clare town in May.

Nicolas Chauvin

The 19-year-old Stade Francais prospect suffered a fatal neck break during a match in Bordeaux this month. His death sparked a move to change tackle laws to increase player safety.

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Louis Fajfrowski

A wing for ProD2 Aurillac, the 21-year-old died after a post-match heart attack in pre-season.

Barend Britz

The 63-year-old South African, a former lock with Transvaal, was violently attacked and killed in the bar he owned in Perpignan.

Rebecca Braglia

The Italian was playing for Amatori Parma Rugby in April when she suffered a neck injury after being tackled. Aged 18, Braglia was airlifted from Ravenna to Cesena where her condition deteriorated. She died on 1 May.

Ian Williams

A prop for Doncaster Knights in England’s Championship, the 27-year-old collapsed during training and efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Keith Murdoch

Infamous for being sent home from a 1972 All Black tour for indiscipline, Murdoch died in May at the age of 74 after a life far from the spotlight. 

Dylan Mika

A flanker who played for both Samoa and New Zealand on the international stage, Mika died in March aged 45.

Other sports

Roger Bannister

The iconic athlete, the first to run a sub-four-minute mile in 1954, passed away in March at the age of 88.

Athletics - Oxford University v AAA - First Four Minute Mile - Iffley Road track, Oxford Source: S&G

Peter Casey

The beloved horse trainer, who guided Flemenstar to three grade one wins, died at the age of 82 in January.

Laura Barry

25-year-old Limerick jockey Barry died after a battle with cancer, one day before she was set to marry fiancee Ben in July.

Brendan Ingle

Boxing - Brendan Ingle and Prince Naseem Hamed Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Dublin-born Ingle was a massively respected boxing coach to stars such as Nasseem Hamed, Billy Joe Saunders and Kell Brook. He died in May aged 77 after a brain haemorrhage.

William Dunlop

A member of a motorbike racing dynasty, the 32-year-old Antrim man suffered a fatal crash in the practice session for a race in Skerries in July.

Jarrod Lyle

The Australian golfer shared his heartbreaking battle against cancer with millions. He died in August.

Nicholas Bett

2015 400m hurdling world champion Bett died in a car accident in his native Kenya just days after the 28-year-old competed at the African Championships.

Michael Goolaerts

Aged just 23, Belgian cyclist Goolaerts suffered a heart attack during the Paris-Roubaix in April.

Scott Westgarth

A talented light heavyweight boxer, Westgarth died in February after winning a fight on points against Dec Spelman. He appeared in pain throughout post-fight interviews and was rushed to hospital after collapsing backstage. He was 31.

Eric Bristow

A star of 1980s darts, Bristow passed away at 60 while working in hospitality at an April show in Liverpool’s Echo Arena.

Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart

A wrestling star in the 1980s as one half of the ‘Hart foundation’, the 63-year-old fell at his Florida home suffered fatal head injuries.

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