Local football has been rocked by the sudden death of Carrick Rangers footballer Jerry Thompson.
The popular 24-year-old footballer, who played for a number of clubs in his career, passed away on Tuesday.
In a statement the Carrickfergus club said: “Carrick Rangers Football Club is saddened by the very untimely sudden passing earlier today of our friend and player Gerard Thompson.
“Gerard, or Jerry as he was more affectionately known, joined the club earlier this season and he became an instant hit with his teammates and our supporters. He was a larger than life character who brought a fantastic energy and commitment to our club.
“Although he was only with us for a short time, he will be fondly remembered by everyone associated with Carrick Rangers FC.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Jerry’s family and friends at this difficult and sad time.
“Rest in peace, Jerry. You will forever be a member of the Amber Army.”
Initially, the north Belfast man’s name was on the teamsheet for last night’s match against Glenavon before it was withdrawn shortly before kick-off. Jerry was man on the match in Saturday’s home win over Institute at the Loughshore Hotel Arena.
Carrick manager Niall Currie tweeted: “Forever u will be in my heart young man. An absolute pleasure to have from day one. My heart is broken.”
Carrick’s East Antrim neighbours Larne FC and Ballyclare Comrades paid tribute to the 24-year-old player too.
The Inver Park club said: “Everyone at Larne Football Club would like to pass on their sincere condolences to the family of Jerry Thompson, following his untimely passing.
“Jerry enjoyed two seasons at the club, either side of a brief spell at Donegal Celtic (DC). First signed by David McAlinden in the summer of 2016 from Cliftonville, Jerry quickly established himself as a mainstay of the team on the left flank.
“He moved to DC for a short spell, before being brought back to the club by Tiernan Lynch, shortly before the transfer window closed in August 2017.
“He helped the club reach the Irish Cup semi-final that season, claiming the Inver Red & Whites player of the season in the process. He then moved on to join Portadown for the 2018/19 campaign.
“Jerry was a hugely popular player at the club, during his two full seasons at Inver Park. He was a tenacious, committed and gifted player who never gave less than 100%. It was no surprise that this endeared him to the club’s fans.
“He will be both sorely missed and fondly by those who knew him. This is true of Larne Football Club and right across the Irish League.”
Ballyclare Comrades stated: “We are shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Carrick Rangers player Jerry Thompson. Sincere sympathies to Jerry’s family and friends and all at Carrick Rangers FC.”
Messages of sympathy have come from across the football community including Portadown FC.
The Shamrock Park club said: “We at Portadown FC are devastated & heartbroken to learn of the sudden and untimely passing of former player Gerard (Jerry) Thompson who played for the club from August 2018 to May 2019
“Our prayers and condolences are with Jerry’s family, friends and teammates at this difficult time.”
The Irish Football Association said it is “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Carrick Rangers FC player Jerry Thompson”.
“Our thoughts and condolences are very much with Jerry’s family, friends, everyone connected to Carrick and his former clubs at this time.”