FORMER Ireland U21 International and Brighton and Hove defender Paul McCarthy has died suddenly aged 45.
Two of the Irishman's former teams, Brighton and Hove and Wycombe Wanderers, confirmed the news of his sudden death yesterday on Twitter.
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) February 20, 2017
Cork-born McCarthy grew up playing football with close friend Roy Keane and played for his local side Rockmount.
While he started his career as a trainee with Brighton and Hove Albion in 1988, he played and scored for the Republic of Ireland international U21 team at the 1991 FIFA World Championship against Korea.
He was appointed captain of the U21 team in November 1992, and was named the Republic of Ireland Under-21 Player of the Year in November 1993.
McCarthy made over 200 league and cup appearances before he joined Wycombe Wanderers in 1996 where he stayed for seven seasons and scored Wycombe's first goal in their first quarter final win over Premier League side Leicester City.
— Wycombe Wanderers (@wwfcofficial) February 20, 2017
He then joined Oxford United on loan in March 2003 before joined the club permanently at the end of the season.
— Ebbsfleet United FC (@EUFCofficial) February 20, 2017
After 35 appearances for Oxford, he was released the following year and joined non-league club Hornchurch only to go on and join Ebbsfleet United in late 2004, becoming club captain and making 110 appearances by 2008 when he collected the FA Trophy in May of that year, and becoming player-assistant manager in 2009.
In paying tribute to Irishman, former Ebbsfleet manager Liam Daish said, “At a loss for words at the news my skipper, my assistant, my mate Paul McCarthy has passed away.
"Sleep well big man. R.I.P.”
Former Ebbsfleet chairman Brian Kilcullen said: “Out of all the players I met, he is up at the top as both a person and player. Really, really sad news.
Club secretary during Paul’s tenure Roly Edwards commented: “On top of everything, he was a great family man. All of us that worked with him grew to love him.”
After leaving Ebbsfleet in 2013, he joined with Crowborough AFC.
According to Wycombe Wanderers, the Irishman died yesterday Sunday February 20, of a suspected heart attack.