Premiership footballer, 24, dies suddenly days after man of match performance

An Irish Premiership footballer has tragically died just days after he was named Man of the Match after a game on Saturday.

Jerry Thompson, 24, who played for Carrick Rangers in the Northern Ireland Football League, passed away suddenly on Tuesday.

He had been named in the starting XI to face Glenavon on Tuesday night when his name was withdrawn shortly before kick-off.

Just three days previous Jerry, from North Belfast, had been named Man of the Match on last Saturday’s win over Institute.

Announcing the tragic news, Carrick Rangers described Thompson as a "larger than life character" who will be "fondly remembered”, reports Belfast Live.

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In a statement, the club said: "Carrick Rangers Football Club is saddened by the very untimely sudden passing earlier today of our friend and player Gerard Thompson.

"Gerard, or Jerry as he was more affectionately known, joined the Club earlier this season and became an instant hit with his teammates and our supporters.

"He was a larger than life character who brought a fantastic energy and commitment to our Club.

"Although he was only with us for a short time, he will be fondly remembered by everyone associated with Carrick Rangers FC.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Jerry's family and friends at this difficult and sad time. Rest in peace, Jerry. You will forever be a member of the Amber Army. #JT21."

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Tributes have been pouring in following news of Jerry’s death.

Carrick manager Niall Currie said he was 'heartbroken' by the news.

He tweeted: "Forever u will be in my heart young man. An absolute pleasure to have from day one. My heart is broken."

Teammate Guillame Keke posted a photograph of Thompson with the simple message: "I love you."

A number of other clubs also expressed their shock and sympathy following the news.

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Glenavon midfielder Sammy Clingan – who played in Tuesday night's win over Carrick – tweeted: "Terrible news tonight about the death of the young fella Jerry Thompson from @CarrickRangers!! My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and team mates. Scared heart of Jesus look over them all."

Linfield Football Club said it was "shocked and saddened" to hear of the young player's passing.

The Blues added: "We send our condolences from everybody at the club to the family, friends & team mates of Jerry."

Dungannon Swifts tweeted: "Dungannon Swifts FC would like to pass on our sincere condolences to the family, friends and team mates, of @CarrickRangers player, Jerry Thompson. We as a Club are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of his sudden passing this evening."

Thompson had joined Carrick in the summer and quickly emerged as a fans' favourite at Taylors Avenue.

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The versatile left-sided player began his Irish League career with Cliftonville before having spells with clubs including Larne and Portadown.

Former club Larne shared their own memories of Thompson with a special tribute on their official website.

"He will both be sorely missed and fondly by those who knew him," the Inver Park outfit said.

"This is true both Larne Football Club and right across the Irish League."

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