DECLAN Devine has paid a glowing tribute to the club’s late captain, Ryan McBride at Derry City Academy’s recent presentation evening, claiming the defender was the type of person ‘everyone should aspire to be’.
The City manager was assistant to former boss, Stephen Kenny when McBride was plucked from relative obscurity in the Saturday Morning League and brought into the fold at the Brandywell club at the age of 19.
McBride, who would’ve celebrated his 30th birthday last Sunday, went on to play 177 games for his beloved Candy Stripes, captaining the club 57 times and was described by Devine as a ‘colossal’ Derry City player.
McBride, who died suddenly on March 19th, 2017 at the age of 27, won the FAI Cup under Devine’s management in 2012 and the Derry boss also recalls coaching the Brandywell Ryan native in the mini soccer games as a 12 year-old at the Lone Moor Road venue.
The City supremo told the club’s budding footballers that if they can match Ryan’s determination, drive and appetite for success, then they could have a big future in the game.
Devine made the remarks when addressing the club’s youngsters in the Longtower Youth Club where a mural of Ryan in Derry City colours adorns the gable wall of the building.
“I’ve been about a long, long time at Derry City,” said Devine. “I think this is my 15th year all in. I’ve seen a lot of players come through the club.
“And there’s a player whose picture is on the other side of that wall, Ryan McBride, who would’ve turned 30 on Sunday.
“Ryan was coming to the football development centre here since he was 12 years of age. If you had told me when he was 12 or 13 Ryan McBride was going to be a colossal Derry City player, I would have had my doubts,” he admitted.
“I remember him on a Saturday morning at 12 years of age playing mini soccer. It was his application and desire to play at the highest level, it wasn’t the coaching.
“And yet Ryan McBride epitomises everything that’s required to make it into a senior football and that’s drive and determination and the ability to deal with setbacks and a really big appetite to do what’s required to get to the next level. Ryan was what everyone aspires to be.”
Devine was delighted with the progress made by the Academy under the watch of Paddy McCourt last season and urged the club’s young talent to work even harder in 2020.
“At the end of the day all we want is for some of you guys to experience some of the highs that we’ve experienced in the game,” Devine told the attendance. “That’s going to take hard work and commitment.
“The one thing we can’t give people is ability and there’s a lot of ability in the room. You’ve got to trust the people you’re working with. You’ve got to make sure it’s really what you want because the sacrifices that are required to become a top footballer these days - honestly you don’t get handed contracts or the platform to play without making sacrifices.
“A lot of you have already made sacrifices. There are going to be people here who will go to the top level in England. And I can guarantee there are people sitting in this room who will play for Derry City in the next few years. Really it’s down to you who is going to make it. It might come down to me to pick you but it’s actually going to be up to you to give me that problem.