Emergency heart surgery for soccer pundit Hamilton
GEORGE Hamilton, the country's leading soccer commentator, was recovering in hospital last night after emergency heart bypass surgery.
The 60-year-old had complained of feeling unwell and experiencing breathing problems earlier this week.
Initially he suspected he might have been suffering from flu but he was sent to hospital on Tuesday by his GP.
Hamilton is now in the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin, where he under went several hours of emergency heart bypass surgery.
He was in a serious but stable condition last night, with his two daughters, other relatives and close friends keeping a bedside vigil.
"We are so thankful that George is holding his own," a close friend said. "It's scary to think about what could have happened. He is such a lovely guy and so popular with everyone across the country and even beyond.
"It's a total shock to the system when a loved one becomes ill. It really knocks you for six.
"The staff at both facilities have been amazing," the friend added.
RTE confirmed that the broadcasting star was recovering from surgery but didn't elaborate on his condition.
"George Hamilton was taken unwell on Tuesday night," the state broadcaster said in a statement.
"He is currently in hospital recovering from surgery. His family has asked for privacy at this time. All his colleagues in RTE wish him a speedy recovery."
The news of his sudden surgery came as a surprise to many of his colleagues and other figures in Irish sport.
Hamilton has been Ireland's top soccer commentator since beginning his broadcasting career three decades ago.
Originally from Belfast, he started out in the BBC where he remained for eight years before moving to RTE.
He is also an accomplished musician and writes a weekly classical music column for the Irish Independent.
He has presented a Saturday morning show on RTE Lyric FM, 'The Hamilton Scores', for the last eight years.