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Dublin: 4°C Thursday 13 May 2021
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Tributes for Irish goalkeeping coach Des McAleenan who has died aged 53

The Dubliner was on the staff of the Colombian national team.

Des McAleenan travelled the world thanks to his coaching talent.
Des McAleenan travelled the world thanks to his coaching talent.

THE HIGHLY-REGARDED Irish coach, Des McAleenan, who made a name for himself in the MLS and internationally has died at the age of 53. 

McAleenan was goalkeeping coach to Carlos Queiroz’s Colombian national team. 

“The best of football is over for me, leaving with you today. RIP Des,” the former Real Madrid boss wrote. 

McAleenan tested positive for Covid 19, according to Colombian media, and could not join up with the squad for the Uruguay and Ecuador games in November. 

McAleenan grew up in Artane and played with Stella Maris as a schoolboy. 

He made the move to America to play for Central Connecticut State University in 1988 for four years, where he also first began coaching.

After various jobs in the Connecticut area, he was hired by Major League Soccer’s New York/New Jersey Metrostars franchise — laterally New York Red Bulls –  where he lasted nine years.

He worked alongside managers like Bob Bradley, Bruce Arena and Juan Carlos Osorio and coached netminders like Tony Meola and Tim Howard, before his move to Old Trafford. 

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The Dubliner spent two years in Saudi Arabia before, ultimately, the Colombia job came up and, in a 2019 interview with The42‘s Eoin O’Callaghan, he spoke of the depression he faced around the time of his stint in the Middle East.

“I struggled wickedly,” he recalled. “It scars me even still. I have a deep understanding of and empathy with people who go through dark moments. I was in Belfast and I just remember the pain of being so completely lost. I wanted to give up football. I wanted to give up everything. It was a shocking, horrible thing to go through.”

If you are affected by any part of this story, or if you are experiencing problems and wish to seek help the following helplines may be of use:

  • Console  1800 247 247, or text Help to 51444 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression, anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie - (suicide, self-harm)

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