Irish soccer was left in shock last week as news broke that Galway’s Eamon “Chick” Deacy had died suddenly at the age of 53, after falling ill as he made his way to work at his family’s greengrocer business. Capped four times by Ireland but most famous for his time with English club Aston Villa between 1979 and 1984, Deacy also had spells with Derby County, his native Galway United, and Limerick FC.

After famously hounding the club via numerous letters to obtain a try-out, Deacy went on to not only sign for Aston Villa, but won an English First Division (now Premiership) medal with them in 1981, when he was one of just 14 men used in the whole season. He also featured in the following season’s European Cup-winning campaign.

He later had a short stint at Derby County, but rather than accept a contract there, he returned to Ireland and was eventually part of the Galway United squad which claimed FAI Cup honors in 1991. Remarkably, he had still lined out for his home club West United until quite recently.

A teak-tough midfielder or left back on the pitch and known universally as a thorough gentleman, his former Ireland manager Eoin Hand said last week that Deacy was humble to the extent that “it seemed at times like he was in a trance, he was so honored by it all.” His funeral in Galway was said to have been the biggest in living memory, with many of his former Aston Villa teammates in attendance.

Eamon "Chick" DeacyGoogle Images