Tributes to footballer Ryan McBride at Derry captain's funeral

Russell Hope, News Reporter

Tributes have been paid to Derry City footballer Ryan McBride at his funeral in the city.

Club manager Kenny Shiels called him "a Trojan warrior who wore the club's jersey with great pride".

The "fearless" defender was found dead at home on Sunday night, aged 27, but the cause of death is unknown.

Ireland's President Michael D Higgins was among hundreds of people at the service at St Columba's Long Tower Catholic Church in Londonderry, hours before former deputy first minster Martin McGuinness's funeral in the same church.

Mr Shiels read an emotional tribute poem:

"Our Trojan warrior, you have run your last race;

"In your absence we will never forget;

"The one and the only - our top Candystripe."

Crowds, many wearing the club's colours of red, white and black and some carrying flags, lined the route taken by the hearse.

McBride's team mates walked alongside the vehicle as it approached from the Brandywell area, where he lived, close to the club's home ground.

Flowers in the hearse said "Captain" and recreated his number 5 jersey, while one group of supporters carried a banner with a photograph of him in full flight.

Mr Shiels said the team loved him with all their hearts.

"A giant so gentle, now we are apart; In your absence we will still play the game, but in your absence it won't be the same," he added.

McBride, whose tough tackling and committed performances made him a fan favourite, had played more than 170 league matches for Derry - more than 50 as captain - since joining in 2011.

Derry won McBride's last match, beating Drogheda United 4-0 in the League of Ireland Premier Division, the top league in Ireland.

Tributes will be paid at this weekend's internationals involving the Republic and Northern Ireland.