THE GAA football legend Paidi O Se has passed away suddenly, aged just 57.
The Kerry star won eight senior All-Ireland Football medals during a superb playing career and added two more as manager of his native county.
He also took Westmeath to a Leinster title.
It is understood Mr O Se was found dead at his home in Ventry this morning. It is thought that the publican and former garda may have suffered a heart attack.
His close friend and former teammate Pat Spillane said he was "heartbroken" to learn of Mr O Se's death.
Mr Spillane described Mr O Se as "a warrior" and one of the greatest Gaelic football defenders of all time.
He added that his friend epitomised everything that was good about the people of Kerry.
“Paidi was the life and style of every party… Paidi was a legend, a real character, a rogue in the nicest meaning of the word," he said.
As a manager he won two All-Ireland football titles with Kerry, as well as six Munster titles, and a National League. He also led the county to two Munster Under-21 Championship victories.
He led Westmeath to the Leinster football championship title in 2004, their first ever title, in his first season in charge with the county.
His most recent coaching job was with Clare.
In a brief statement, Kerry GAA said this afternoon:
“It is with deep regret that Coiste Chontae Chiarraí has been informed of the unexpected death earlier this morning of one of the county’s most outstanding footballers, Paidi O Se.
“The Chairman of Coiste Chontae Chiarrai, Mr Patrick O’Sullivan, on behalf of all GAA Gaels, wishes to express his deep sympathy to the O Se family on this sad occasion.”
President Michael D Higgins led the tributes to the sports star.
Mr Higgins said: "Paidi O Se had a reputation that went far beyond his great achievements in sport and far beyond the boundaries of his own beloved country,
"It was a great contribution and I send my sympathies to him and his family and all those related to him."
Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has offered his condolences to the wife, children, family and friends of Mr O Se.
"I was shocked to hear this morning of the death of Paidi O Se," he said.
"Paidi and I were colleagues on the football field for over ten years, but were friends for much longer.
"Paidi will be remembered not only as one of the greatest footballers of his time and also as a very successful manager guiding Kerry to two All Ireland victories. His talent, commitment and energy were legendary.
"Paidi's lifetime of achievement earned him great respect, both in Kerry and across the country. His death, so unexpectedly and at so young an age, is a great loss.
"I would like to extend my deep condolences to his wife Maire, and children Neasa, Siun and Padraig Og on their loss."
The former Mayo, Galway and Leitrim manager, John O’Mahony also paid tribute.
"As someone who played against him and managed Galway tagainst hi in an All-Ireland final in 2000, Paidi became a personal friend over the years and I am deeply shocked at his sad passing," he said.
“Paidi was a great servant of the GAA, as a player and a manager, and he was the life and soul of the party wherever he went. His contribution to the GAA for Kerry and nationally was immense...
“Back in 2001, I accompanied Paidi on all-star trip to Dubai and in the 70s I played against him for Mayo in an All-Ireland final and his prowess in the sporting world was match only by his great companionship off the field," he added.
"His loyalty to the people he knew and to the GAA was remarkable. He will be sorely missed."
*Read Martin Breheny, Eugene McGee and Billy Keane's unique insight into the life of Kerry legend Paidi O Se in Monday's Irish Independent