ALAN MCLOUGHLIN’S daughter has paid tribute to her “hero” and “best friend” following his sad passing at the age of just 54.
Born in Manchester to an Irish father from Tuam, Co Galway, McLoughlin forged a career as a player with the likes of Portsmouth, Swindon Town and Southampton.
To Irish fans, he’ll always be remembered for the crucial goal against Northern Ireland that sealed the Republic’s qualification for the 1994 World Cup.
However, to his daughter, Meg McLoughlin, Alan was so much more than just dad.
Taking to Twitter in the wake of the news that Alan had lost his nine-year battle with cancer, she paid an emotional tribute to her beloved father.
"My whole heart, my best friend, my hero,” he wrote.
"I’m so so sorry. I would die a thousand times if it meant you didn’t have to.
"I’m so proud of you, and I’m so blessed to be your daughter. I will always love you more than anything. Your baby girl."
My whole heart, my best friend, my hero
I’m so so sorry. I would die a thousand times if it meant you didn’t have to.
I’m so proud of you, and i’m so blessed to be your daughter. I will always love you more than anything.
Your baby girl 💔 pic.twitter.com/Dv6zDFumxR
— MK (@McloughlinMeg) May 4, 2021
President Michael D. Higgins was also among those to pay their respects, sending his “deepest sympathies” to the McLoughlin family following the news.
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.”
McLoughlin had been battling cancer since 2012 when he had a tumour removed from his kidney. The cancer returned in 2019 with the former midfielder undergoing immunotherapy.
Originally on the books at Manchester United, McLoughlin made his name at Swindon Town where his impressive performances caught the eye of Jack Charlton who drafted him into the Ireland squad ahead of the 1990 World Cup.
After the World Cup he moved to Southampton for £1 million before making the controversial switch to south coast rivals Portsmouth where he spent the majority of his career.
McLoughlin spent seven years at Fratton Park with his most famous moment coming with a goal against Nottingham Forest in the 1992 FA Cup that put Pompey through to the semi-finals.
Portsmouth were among those to pay tribute to McLouglin.
"Pompey are sad to confirm that Alan McLoughlin has passed away at the age of just 54. Rest in peace, Macca,” they wrote.
Swindon tweeted: "We are incredibly saddened to learn that Alan McLoughlin has passed away aged 54. Rest in peace, Macca."
Southampton also posted: "Saints FC is saddened to learn of the passing of former midfielder Alan McLoughlin, aged 54.
"Our thoughts are with Alan's family and loved ones."