Damien Duff pays tribute to Alan McLoughlin and Alan Keely after their tragic passing

Damien Duff (Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson)

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Damien Duff paid a heartfelt tribute to Alan McLoughlin and Alan Keely after they both passed away in recent days.

Duff made his Ireland debut in 1998 and McLoughlin's 42-cap international career ended the following year.

The 42-year-old said that McLoughlin's goal in Windsor Park that got Ireland to USA '94 was an inspiration to him and a generation of young footballers.

"Yeah listen, Alan was an absolute gentleman, a class act," said Duff on RTE after McLoughlin's death at the age of 54 earlier today.

"We kind of overlapped. When I was starting off he was finishing off.

Sport, Football, pic: 17th November 1993, World Cup Qualifier in Belfast, Northern Ireland 1 v Republic of Ireland 1, Republic of Ireland Alan McLoughlin celebrates after the match in which he scored the Republic's goal (Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images)

"And him and quite a few others inspired a generation, it's the reason why I played football, with his goal qualifying us for the '94 World Cup, that famous night in Windsor Park.

"I remember distinctly where I was. So a very sad day."

Former Ireland assistant coach Duff also paid tribute to Keely, the former Shels, Finn Harps and Waterford player, who died suddenly on Monday.

Former Shelbourne player Alan Keely
(Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie)

Alan's father, the former Shamrock Rovers star and former Shelbourne manager Dermot, taught Duff in school.

"I'd have to say it's a very sad day for Dermot Keely as well, he was my teacher in school, business studies, a great character," acknowledged Duff.

"No father should bury his son, so yeah, a very sad day and I send my condolences to both families."

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