The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) have paid tribute to "a great servant of Irish football" after former national-team captain Tony Grealish died aged 56.
"Tony Grealish was one of my footballing heroes when I was a child and I always remembered him as a great competitor who always gave his all for Ireland," said FAI chief executive John Delaney. "I remember him playing in the FA Cup final for Brighton against Manchester United and he had an excellent career. He will be missed by Irish football."
An industrious midfielder, Grealish won 45 international caps between 1976 and 1985. Born in London to an Irish father and Irish maternal grandparents, he started his career at Leyton Orient FC but it was with Brighton & Hove Albion FC that he is best associated. He was captain in 1983 when the side reached their only FA Cup final, losing to Manchester United FC in a replay.
By then his international career was winding down, having been given his first Republic cap by then player-manager Johnny Giles. He scored eight goals for Ireland over the next decade, playing a key role under Eoin Hand of the side that came so close to qualifying for the 1982 FIFA World Cup, missing out to Spain on goal difference.
Grealish, who had spells at West Bromwich Albion FC and Manchester City FC before hanging up his boots, had been battling cancer for 18 months before passing away in Devon last night. "Our thoughts are with his family and friends," said FAI president Paddy McCaul. "He will be remembered as a great servant of Irish football."
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