TRIBUTES have poured in for former Brighton, Oxford, Ebbsfleet United and Crowborough Athletic man Paul McCarthy after he died suddenly aged 45.
McCarthy, a Republic of Ireland U21 international, passed away on Sunday leading to a number of his former clubs and team-mates paying their respects.
The defender started his career with Brighton, making over 200 appearances before signing for Wycombe Wanderers in 1996.
He spent seven years at Wycombe, scoring in the famous FA Cup quarter-final victory over Leicester City in 2001.
McCarthy went on to play for Oxford and Hornchurch before joining Ebbsfleet in November 2004, serving as caretaker manager between Andy Ford and Liam Daish’s reigns.
Under Daish, McCarthy played 162 games for the Fleet and scored in the FA Trophy semi-final victory over Aldershot Town in 2008.
The club captain then lifted the Trophy at Wembley in front of 40,000 as Ebbsfleet edged out Torquay United thanks to Chris McPhee’s winner.
McCarthy decided to hang up his boots in October 2009, then serving as Daish’s assistant manager as Fleet returned to Non-League’s top tier in 2011.
After leaving Ebbsfleet in 2013 after almost a decade in Kent, he moved on to Southern Counties East League side Crowborough Athletic, helping the club on and off the pitch.
On hearing the news of McCarthy’s passing, former Fleet boss Daish said: “At a loss for words at the news my skipper, my assistant, my mate Paul McCarthy has passed away. Sleep well big man, R.I.P.
“Paul McCarthy my skipper. I never had a dressing room to manage on his watch, never a squeak came out of it, because of Macca!”
Crowborough Athletic boss Sean Muggeridge told the club’s website: “?I’m so shocked and saddened at the sudden death of Paul. He was a true friend, devoted husband and father.
“He was not just a top player and coach but a real gentleman and he will be so missed by myself and the club. When he walked on to either the training ground, pitch or in to the clubhouse, he was totally respected by everyone and his help that he gave me when I was a player and as a manager was priceless.
“It’s a sad day for everyone in football and my thoughts go out to his family. The players, management and coaches are all shocked at the sad news and we will pay our respects, along with everyone else, at our home game this Saturday against Erith Town.”