Derry City F.C. Chief Executive, Sean Barrett, has described the late Ryan McBride as a “colossus” who epitomised everything you’d want in a modern footballer.
He was speaking as Derry, and the wider football fraternity in Ireland, struggled to come to terms with the sudden death of the Derry City captain, at the age of just 27, on Sunday.
“The whole of Ireland is in a state of shock,” said Mr. Barrett.
“The amount of people from all over Ireland who have contacted the club this morning, because Ryan was just such a colossus at our club, has been unbelievable. He was our man. He was our ‘captain fantastic’ and everybody at this club is absolutely devastated,” he added.
A cloud of shock and disbelief descended on Derry on Sunday as news of Ryan’s tragic death filtered through. Mr. Barrett visited the family home shortly after learning of the tragedy. He said he found it almost impossible to accept the reality of what had happened.
“I was up there last night and it just looked as if he was lying sleeping. You felt like shaking him and saying ‘wake up Ryan,’” he said.
A post-mortem to determine the cause of Ryan’s death commenced yesterday morning. His funeral on Thursday will take place from his Bluebell Hill Gardens home, a stone’s throw from the ground where he had carved out a reputation as one of the fiercest centre halves in the country.
Mr Barrett said Ryan was Brandywell and Derry City to his very core.
“He was born a hundred yards from the ground. He used to walk around the side door of the Brandywell and you’d hear the knock every morning and that was Ryan.
“He’d come in the side door with his boots, down the stairs, in the changing room, out on the pitch, then away back out again, ‘I’ll see you later, big man’, and that was him away again. He was so proud to put on the Derry City jersey. If I could pay one tribute, it’s that nobody wanted to play for Derry more than Ryan McBride, and you saw that every time he went out on the pitch.”
Mr. Barrett said the loss of Ryan, as a human being, as a friend, and as a leader, will have an immeasureable impact on Derry’s young squad. But he said the onus now will be to rally together in his memory, because that’s what Ryan would have wanted, and that’s what he would have done.
“He gave everything, one hundred per cent, and he galvansied the young fellahs around him, the young fellahs all looked up to him because they always knew, even though there were some intimidating players around the league, that we’ve got Ryan McBride. We don’t care. We’ve got Ryan McBride to lead us, and everybody knew that. All the other clubs knew that, and every player that played against him knew that. Those young fellahs, they are in a state of shock, they are devastated, gutted, because they’ve lost such a leader.”
He concluded: “He was just that strong and brave. Brave. That’s another word when you think about Ryan McBride, you think of the words brave, courageous and warrior.”