Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Alan McLoughlin has died at the age of 54.
McLoughlin won 42 caps for Ireland and famously scored the goal against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in November 1993 which took Jack Charlton’s team to the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States.
President Michael D Higgins has been among those leading the tributes to McLoughlin. In a statement, he said: “”Supporters of Irish soccer, and in particular those who will have followed the team during the Charlton and McCarthy eras, will have been greatly saddened by the news of the death of former Republic of Ireland international Alan McLoughlin.
“His passing at such an early age comes after a long battle with cancer.
“Sabina and I send our deepest sympathies to his family and friends, and to all those who knew him as a player for both club and country.”
FAI chief executive officer Jonathan Hill added: “This is most tragic news and our thoughts now are with Alan’s wife Debbie, his two daughters and his extended family.
“I spoke with Alan before we honoured him at the Luxembourg game in March and I know how proud he was of his 42 appearances in the Ireland jersey.
“He went to two World Cups with Ireland and will always be remembered for that night in November in 1993. May he rest in peace.”
Meanwhile Football Association of Ireland president Gerry McAnaney said: “Alan will always be remembered for that goal in Belfast 18 years ago, a goal that brought the entire country to its feet.
“He was a great player for Ireland, a fantastic footballing man who coached so many young players and a very proud family man.
“We were lucky to have him as one of our Irish football family and I know I speak on behalf of everyone involved with Irish football when I sympathise with Debbie and his family at this most difficult of times.”
Fellow former Republic of Ireland international Kevin Kilbane tweeted: “Just awful news. Alan was a true Irishman who helped me in so many ways when I broke into the Irish squad at 20yrs old. A great team mate, great pro & leader but more importantly such a great man. #RIPAlanMcLoughlin.”
Another former teammate, Paul McGrath, tweeted: “So sorry to hear of the passing of Alan, I met Alan back in our United days & we also had a lot of successes and laughs with the Irish team @FAIreland So sad for Alan’s family & friends Rest in peace pal.”
Mark Lawrenson also paid tribute to McLoughlin, tweeting: “RIP Alan McLaughlin-You’ve left us far too Early..So Sad....Sleep well Brother.....”
McLoughlin, who made more than 350 appearances for Portsmouth in a career which began as an apprentice at Manchester United, revealed in March he was living with cancer for the second time.
A post on Portsmouth’s official Twitter account said: “#Pompey are sad to confirm that Alan McLoughlin has passed away at the age of just 54 Rest in peace, Macca.”
Swindon Town and Southampton were among other clubs to pay tribute to McLoughlin on Twitter.