'Our anguish is bottomless' - Anthony Foley's family thank fans for support in these 'darkest days'
The family of Anthony Foley have issued a statement conveying their 'deepest appreciation' for the outpouring of support following the sudden death of their 'their hero'.
The family have called for privacy as they deal with the 42-year-old's death from a suspected heart attack.
The global rugby family has been paying tribute to 'Axel' over the past 24 hours and the messages of support and solidarity have been a source of comfort.
The family of the Munster head coach said in a statement: “With Anthony’s passing, we have ultimately lost an amazing, adoring and loving father and husband; an equally caring, loyal and devoted son and brother; a central and go-to figure for the wider Foley and Hogan families. Our anguish at the sudden loss of Anthony is bottomless. We have been plunged deep into an incomprehensible darkness and sense of loss that we must work our way through over the coming days, weeks, months and years.
“We know, too, that his sudden death has brought the rugby worlds of Shannon RFC, Munster, Ireland and much further afield crashing down. You have lost a former player, coach, friend and all-round inspiration – your and our hero both. We mourn his loss together.
“We again wish to thank everyone for their support; it will help carry us through these darkest days.
“With regard to media, we thank you also for the sensitive way in which you have paid tribute to Anthony since the weekend but we do ask that our privacy and that of his close friends be respected over this tragic period.”
He is survived by his wife, Olive, and their children.
Details of Anthony's funeral will be released in time.
He followed in his father Brendan's footsteps and ultimately emulated his on-pitch success.
Anthony Foley played for Ireland 62 times, scoring a try against England on his debut in 1995 in the Five Nations, as it was then.
He also led Munster to their first European Cup victory in 2006 after years of heartbreak in top flight competition. Within a couple of years he was central to the province's repeat success.
Foley scored 39 tries for his province and made 86 appearances in European competition before taking on backroom roles from 2009 and being named head coach in 2014.