Alan McLoughlin, former Republic of Ireland midfielder, dies aged 54

Alan McLoughlin, the man whose goal took the Republic of Ireland to the 1994 World Cup finals in the US, has died at the age of 54.

The former Portsmouth midfielder revealed in March he was preparing to undergo a course of radiotherapy following surgery to remove a tumour from his vertebrae, nine years after being diagnosed with a kidney tumour. McLoughlin also said he was told in November 2019 that the cancer had spread to his remaining kidney, his chest wall and lung, and that he had been rushed to hospital this year with a fractured neck after his vertebrae had crumbled.

His death was confirmed in a statement issued by the Football Association of Ireland, which offered its condolences to his wife Debbie and their daughters Abby and Megan: “Alan had bravely faced into a second battle with cancer in recent months with his courage in adversity an example to all those who knew him and loved him.”

The midfielder began his career as an apprentice at his hometown club Manchester United, but after spells at Swindon and Southampton it was at Portsmouth where he found a home, making more than 350 appearances in a seven-year stay. He was capped 42 times by the Republic and wrote himself into the nation’s sporting folklore with the equaliser he scored in a World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in November 1993 which sent Jack Charlton’s men to the US the following summer.

The Football Association of Ireland president, Gerry McAnaney, said: “Alan will always be remembered for that goal in Belfast 18 years ago, a goal that brought the entire country to its feet. He was a great player for Ireland, a fantastic footballing man who coached so many young players and a very proud family man.

“We were lucky to have him as one of our Irish football family and I know I speak on behalf of everyone involved with Irish football when I sympathise with Debbie and his family at this most difficult of times.”

The FAI chief executive officer, Jonathan Hill, said: “This is most tragic news and our thoughts now are with Alan’s wife Debbie, his two daughters and his extended family. I spoke with Alan before we honoured him at the Luxembourg game in March and I know how proud he was of his 42 appearances in the Ireland jersey. He went to two World Cups with Ireland and will always be remembered for that night in November in 1993. May he rest in peace.”

A post on Portsmouth’s official Twitter account read: “Pompey are sad to confirm that Alan McLoughlin has passed away at the age of just 54. Rest in peace, Macca.”