Soccer:Former Northern Ireland captain Alan McDonald has died at the age of 48. The QPR stalwart won 52 caps for his country and was a member of their World Cup side in 1986.
McDonald went on to manage Glentoran, winning the Irish League title in 2009, and also coached his country’s under-21 side.
A short statement was posted on the IFA’s official website. “The Irish FA is saddened by this morning’s news of the sudden death of Alan McDonald. Our thoughts are with his family at this time,” it read.
“We are deeply shocked at the death of Alan, who won over 50 caps for Northern Ireland. To die at such a young age is terrible.”
Reports in Belfast say McDonald was at the Temple Golf Club at the time of his death, with emergency services called to the site.
Former Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIlroy, a close friend of McDonald’s, said: “I’m shellshocked. Words can’t even enter my head at the moment. Forty-eight is so young. Alan was always larger than life, during his career and after. I’ve just spoken to Norman Whiteside and he is devastated.”
John O’Neill, who played with McDonald for club and country, also paid tribute.
“When he came into the Northern Ireland team he had a cockiness about him, but he carried it so well because out on the pitch he was prepared to listen to the experienced players,” said O’Neill.
“He put in a tremendous performance in his debut against Romania and matched it in that second appearance against England at Wembley.
“Alan will be badly missed because he was a character and there are not many of them around these days.”
Although he had spells with Charlton and Swindon, McDonald spent the vast majority of his season with QPR and appeared in the 1986 League Cup final for the club.
A message on QPR’s website read: “Queens Park Rangers Football Club is desperately saddened to learn of the passing of former captain and assistant manager Alan McDonald.
“The 48 year-old - who made nearly 500 appearances for the Super Hoops spanning over a 17-year period - died suddenly this morning (Saturday) while playing golf in his native Northern Ireland.
“Belfast-born McDonald, who would go on to be crowd favourite at Loftus Road, originally signed for Rangers as a schoolboy.
“He gained valuable experience in a loan spell at Charlton Athletic in 1983, before returning to W12 to eventually hold down a regular starting spot.”