Derry City football captain Ryan McBride knew no fear, mourners have been told at his funeral.
He put his head where other players would not put their boots and was an inspirational leader, a priest said.
The defender was found dead at home on Sunday night, aged 27. The cause of death is unknown.
President of Ireland Michael D Higgins was among hundreds who attended Requiem Mass at St Columba's Long Tower Catholic Church in Londonderry.
Members of the club's youth and women's squads stood outside the entrance to the church, and the club's colours of red, white and black were ubiquitous.
Team-mates walked alongside the hearse as it approached from the Brandywell area, where McBride lived in the shadow of his home ground.
Flowers in the hearse said "Captain" and depicted his number 5 jersey.
The Pride of Northside supporters' club carried a banner with a photograph of him in full flight .
Fr Aidan Mullan said McBride was an athlete in his prime who had thrilled supporters over the last seven years and still had great potential.
He told the mourners: "As has been said many times, Ryan would put his head where other players would not put their boot."
He was an inspirational leader in the dressing room and on the field, the priest added.
"In the last several weeks Ryan was pivotal in great performances and contributed greatly to Derry's perfect start to the season.
"Quick reflexes, heady play and competitive spirit made him a great role model for many young boys and girls, as well as City supporters and fans throughout the area."