Former Ireland U21 international Paul McCarthy has passed away at the age of just 45.
McCarthy, born in Cork, was named Ireland U21 Player of the Year in 1993.
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) February 20, 2017
McCarthy joined Brighton from Cork side Rockmount - where he was a teammate of Roy Keane - in 1988 and made his professional debut two years later. He went on to make over 200 appearances for the club.
Sad news about passing of former Brighton and Wycombe defender Paul McCarthy at 45. Rockmount teammate of Roy Keane (pictured to RK's left) pic.twitter.com/J13fsul009
— Kieran Cunningham (@KCsixtyseven) February 20, 2017
The defender left Brighton in 1996 for Wycombe Wanderers. McCarthy was one of the heroes of Wycombe's run to the 2001 FA Cup semi-final where they lost narrowly to Liverpool.
In the quarter-final against Leicester at Filbert Street, McCarthy gave Wycombe the lead before Roy Essandoh, a player the club found via the internet, famously scored the winner.
'Macca' was one of the greats from our Adams Park history. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and former team-mates.
— Wycombe Wanderers (@wwfcofficial) February 20, 2017
After leaving Wycombe, McCarthy joined Oxford. Ian Atkins, his manager at the club, told the Oxford United website that McCarthy was a natural leader.
He was a diamond. To be fair I had about 15 diamonds there at Oxford, great lads who were a pleasure to work with and all stuck closely together, but he was one of the ones that shone the brightest. He was a natural leader and had a great football brain. Sometimes I'd just look his way on the pitch and he would know what I was thinking and get the message across to the other players for me.
Even after he left the club we stayed in touch and I am shocked and really sad to hear the news. I had so much time for him - we all did - and my thoughts and prayers are all with his family at this sad time.
McCarthy joined Hornchurch in 2004 and then later that season Ebbsfleet United. It was there he would again become a hero as captained the side to victory at Wembley in the 2008 FA Trophy.
He is a player remember fondly by all.
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 🇮🇪☘️X
— Liam Daish (@liamdaish) February 20, 2017
Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE