Tributes are paid to ‘marvellous character’

The late Alan McDonald with the then Mayor, alderman Paula Bradley when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in April 2011.

The late Alan McDonald with the then Mayor, alderman Paula Bradley when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in April 2011.

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TRIBUTES have been paid to Northern Ireland footballing legend Alan McDonald who died suddenly at the weekend.

The former QPR player, Northern Ireland captain and Glentoran Manager collapsed while playing golf on Saturday (June 23).

The 48-year-old, who grew up in Rathcoole, is believed to have suffered a heart attack.

Capped 52 times by his country, the no-nonsense defender helped guide the side to the World Cup in Mexico in 1986.

In an online tribute to the father-of-three, his daughter Courtney said: “My hero. My world. My life. My daddy. I’m broken. He is and always will be my legend.”

Alan was inducted into the Newtownabbey Sporting Hall of Fame in April last year.

Deputy Mayor Fraser Agnew, who knows Alan’s brothers, said: “I had a good yarn with him at the ceremony. He was an absolutely marvellous character, a winner in every sense of the word.

“Alan was very forthright, there were no back doors with him. As a footballer he was very much in the style of an old-fashioned centre-half from the old era. He was a fantastic two-footed footballer.”

He added: “Growing up in Rathcoole I think gave him a toughness and a winning mentality which he carried on through with him in his career.

“I remember when they were building the Valley Leisure Centre, Alan would have been a user of it and he had a mischievous streak to him - no doubt the staff there will remember him.

“But he was always likeable and very personable and did everything with a great humour and wit.

“When I heard the news of his death it was a great shock and a tragedy for the family and our thoughts and prayers go out to them, it’s a big loss for them, Alan was a marvellous character.”

Councillor and MLA Paula Bradley also paid tribute. She was Mayor at the time Alan was inducted into the Newtownabbey Hall of Fame.

She said: “Alan was a very charming and extremely pleasant man. When he was honoured by the council for his services to sport, he was very humble and gracious about it.

“His sporting achievements made him a great role model for young people.”

Newtownabbey Borough Council also issued a statement offering its condolences to the McDonald family.

Alan is survived by his wife Tonia and children Joshua, Bobbie-Lee and Courtney.

Read more in this week’s Times...