Former Derry City manager Stephen Kenny has hailed the late Ryan McBride as "the bravest player" he had ever seen on a football pitch.
The 27-year-old Derry captain was found dead at home on Sunday, just 24 hours after leading his side to victory over Drogheda.
"I couldn't believe the news. It's a real tragedy," Kenny told RTE's Morning Ireland
"Last week, we brought our Dundalk team up to play Derry City in Buncrana and he scored the winning goal - a header from a corner, which was his trademark. I shook hands with him and was chatting to him.
"He was a ferociously brave player, the bravest I've ever seen on a football pitch.
"He just launched himself at every challenge. Aggressive in the air and brave to a fault nearly, which endeared him to everybody.
"He was every fan's favourite player and a great captain of Derry City.
"He was just a really decent guy. He wore his heart on his sleeve but he was a shy individual."
Captain. Leader. Legend and absolute gentleman. ❤️#RIPRyanMcBride pic.twitter.com/jIV9HvK4PJ— Derry City FC (@DCFCLiveupdates) March 19, 2017
The current Dundalk boss was in his second spell in the Derry hotseat when McBride made his debut in 2011 and revealed that Reading manager Brian McDermott immediately tried to sign the then 21-year-old.
"He came through in an unconventional route," recalled Kenny.
"He was playing with a Saturday morning league team, Brandywell Harps, which was a massive jump to go from there to the first team.
"He made his debut in an RTÉ live game against Shamrock Rovers in 2011.
"Brian McDermott, the Reading manager, had come to watch James McClean. He came to me and said 'We're not going to sign James but we're interested in signing Ryan'.
"That was the first game he had ever played!"
Kenny said McBride, who hailed from the Bluebell Gardens area right beside the club's stadium, was regarded as a local hero in the city.
"Ryan was from the Brandywell area and lived in the houses connected right to the pitch.
"His house overlooked the Brandywell and I used to say that he could watch the matches from his bedroom window.
"Everybody in Derry would have viewed him as one of their own who had come through the system."