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Keane tribute to Irish fan

REPUBLIC of Ireland captain and Los Angeles Galaxy forward Robbie Keane paid tribute to the family of the Ireland fan James Nolan after scoring a goal in the Galaxy's 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

Nolan, 21, of Blessington, County Wicklow, who was in Poland to follow Keane and the Ireland team during the European Championships, went missing on June 17. His body was found on Wednesday in a canal in northern Poland after an apparent accidental drowning.

Keane's tribute came after his goal in the 30th minute as he ran toward the club's bench where he was handed a Galaxy shirt that read "RIP James Nolan" on the back. For the 31-year-old Irish captain, who has made 120 appearances with Ireland, scoring 53 goals, the gesture was important for his grieving nation.

"It was a young Irish fan who went to Poland, 21 years of age, and unfortunately drowned. Obviously, the whole country was sad and I called his father today to send my condolences and to say that my thoughts were with him and the family," said Keane, who intends to send the jersey to Nolan's family in Ireland.

"It was just a gesture because the Irish people are very close and they stick with each other through good times and bad times. He was a big, big soccer fan and it was a shame, so it was just a show of respect, really."

Meanwhile, in a statement, Premier League club Queen's Park Rangers said they had been "deeply saddened" by the death on Saturday of former Northern Ireland captain Alan McDonald. He was 48.

McDonald, who guided Glentoran to the Irish League championship in 2009, collapsed while playing golf on Saturday morning.

A QPR statement said: "The club would like to extend its deepest condolences to Alan's family and friends at this sad time. May he rest in peace."

McDonald's close friend and former team-mate Sammy McIlroy said he was stunned to hear of McDonald's death. McIlroy, who captained the World Cup team, said: "I'm shell-shocked. Words can't even enter my head at the moment. Forty-eight is so young. Alan was always larger than life - during his career and after."

An Irish Football Association spokesman said: "We are deeply shocked at the death of Alan. To die at such a young age is terrible."

A short statement on the association's website added: "The Irish FA are saddened by this morning's news of the sudden death of Alan McDonald. Our thoughts are with his family at this time."

The Belfast-born centre-half made more than 400 appearances for QPR between 1981 and 1997, before ending his playing career at Swindon Town the next year. He played in the Northern Ireland team which drew 0-0 against England in 1985 to qualify for the World Cup finals in Mexico.

McDonald won 52 international caps, scoring three goals.