James McClean has paid his respects to "warrior" Ryan McBride who died suddenly yesterday at the age of 27.
McBride, who began playing for his home-town team Derry in 2011 and starred for the side alongside current Republic of Ireland star McClean, had played in all four games for City this season, most recently Saturday's 4-0 win over Drogheda United.
It was reported locally that defender McBride was found dead at his home in Derry on Sunday night. The cause of death is unknown.
His former manager at Derry, current Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny, and McClean were at RTE headquarters in Dublin attending the FAI International awards when news came through.
McClean, who will be excused from training with the senior Ireland team this week to attend the funeral, shared a poignant tribute on Instagram.
"Tonight we lost someone [I] had to the privilege to play along aside but also got on well with of the field, a warrior that literally would throw his body on the line when he pulled on that Derry City jersey, a club that meant so much to him, but more importantly a big gentleman of the field.. sleep tight big man may god bless you and your family #5 #townilovedsowell."
This is the latest tragedy to strike the Brandywell club. Last year, popular striker Mark Farren died at the age of 33 after battling with a brain tumour. Also last year, current Derry player Josh Daniels lost his mother, sister, brother in law and nephews in the Buncrana pier tragedy.
McBride scored the winner for Derry in their recent win away to Shamrock Rovers and he was also on target for the Candystripes in their 3-1 win over champions Dundalk last week.
He played in Derry's 4-0 win over Drogheda on Saturday and, according to Tony O'Donoghue on RTE, went to work in a bar that evening but left early to go home to bed as he wasn't feeling well.
Tributes have been pouring in from around the Irish football community with players, ex-players, and clubs offering their condolences.
"Can't believe the tragic news I've just heard about Ryan Mcbride... An absolute warrior on the pitch. Thoughts are with his family," wrote Galway United midfielder Gavan Holohan.
"We are shocked to hear this evening the passing of our member and @derrycityfc Captain Ryan McBride. Our thoughts are with his family," wrote PFAI Ireland.
"No words. Devastating," wrote Erin McClean, wife of Irish international and former teammate James McClean.
Desperately sad news about Ryan McBride. Thoughts with his family and friends. RIP— Richie Sadlier (@RichieSadlier) March 19, 2017
We are shocked and saddened to hear the news of Ryan McBride's death. Our condolences to his family, friends and everyone @derrycityfc— Shelbourne FC (@shelsfc) March 19, 2017
RIP Ryan McBride, had some great battles over the years, thoughts with his family and all at Derry City.— Daniel North (@DannyNorth7) March 19, 2017
Our deepest sympathies to all @derrycityfc on the sudden passing of Ryan McBride. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. RIP— Cork City FC (@CorkCityFC) March 19, 2017
Can't believe the tragic news I've just heard about Ryan Mcbride... An absolute warrior on the pitch. Thoughts are with his family. RIP 😔🙌— Gavan Holohan (@Gav_Holohan34) March 19, 2017
Our thoughts are with all @derrycityfc tonight following the sudden passing of their captain Ryan McBride. May he rest in peace.— Cobh Ramblers FC (@CobhRamblersFC) March 19, 2017
That unreal tackle by McBride. So, so sad https://t.co/bLPWNKAzwi— Dodge 😷 (@seidodge) March 19, 2017
I can only pray for a bright, brand new day— Patrick Flynn (@pajoflynn) March 19, 2017
In the town I loved so well 🔴âªï¸
In March 2012, Ryan McBride and Mark Farren played for @derrycityfc in 2-0 win v Cork. Utterly shocking to think that both men have left us— Aidan Fitzmaurice (@fitzmaidan) March 19, 2017
Sincere condolences to the friends and family of Ryan McBride, Derry City skipper who tragically died today. Terrible news, was only 27.— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) March 19, 2017