Irish legends' tributes to 'brave, big-hearted' former teammate Ray Treacy
Ray Treacy (1946-2015)
Warm tributes have been paid by some of Irish soccer's most famous names to Ray Treacy, the 'larger than life' former international football star, who has died aged 68.
Colleagues, friends and fans praised his contribution to football in Ireland and Britain during a career which included 42 international caps and five goals wearing the green jersey.
Mr Treacy died at St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin on Friday, surrounded by his family. He had suffered from motor neurone disease.
Ireland legend John Giles said his death was "a big blow.
"He could really head the ball and his willingness to throw himself in the way of danger made him a popular figure among West Brom supporters and Ireland fans," said Giles.
"He came back to Dublin with me to have a go at a full-time professional set-up at Shamrock Rovers and he brought with him a great fund of football knowledge which he used himself to manage the Hoops to a title...
"He had a deep knowledge of the game to go with a fantastic ability to get on with people," he said.
Fellow pundit Eamon Dunphy, a teammate of Treacy's on the Ireland squad, told the Herald "Ray was a terrific footballer and a larger than life character who was very, very popular with people in the game.
"Ray had a big heart on the pitch. And, off the pitch, he was great fun," he said.
He recalled playing with Treacy when Ireland defeated Czechoslovakia 2-1 in Prague in 1967, stopping them from qualifying for the European Championship Finals.
"Ray scored that day. He played a great game up front against a very strong team," he said.
Mr Treacy was also a great practical joker and buoyed the spirits of Irish squads, organising musical parties, Dunphy added.
"He was a great banjo player and was very friendly with Luke Kelly and other musicians such as Jim McCann and Paddy Reilly".
Veteran broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy said "Ray was one of the greatest characters in Irish football - a great player and a great person."
Ireland veteran Kevin Kilbane praised Treacy on social media, stating "he was a great man and much-loved by so many".
FAI CEO John Delaney said: "He was a legend of Irish football and made a unique contribution to his country, and to schoolboy football and to the League of Ireland."
FAI president Tony Fitzgerald also paid tribute, saying: "He was a great player and a gentleman who made an outstanding contribution to Irish football at all levels that was recognised when he was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2009."
The West Bromwich Albion FC website also lauded the former Ireland star, saying he was "a brave, sprightly inside-forward, his lack of stature at 5ft 9ins did not stop him offering a useful aerial threat...
"Treacy enjoyed an incendiary start to his second Albion spell (in 1976), scoring twice on debut as we drew 2-2 at Derby County, grabbing another as we turned a 2-0 half-time deficit against Spurs into a 4-2 win and then netting in our 4-0 mauling of Manchester United."
A highpoint in his career was scoring the winning goal for Ireland against France in a World Cup qualifier at Dalymount Park in 1972 and played 'a blinder' in Ireland's 3-0 defeat of the Soviet Union in a European Championship game in 1974.
Treacy started out with Home Farm FC in Dublin as a youth before being signed by West Bromwich Albion in 1964 before going on to sign for Charlton Athletic, scoring 44 goals for the English club between 1967 and 1972.
He later played for Swindon Town and Preston North End before returning to West Brom in 1976. In 1977, though, he made the move home, linking up with manager John Giles at Shamrock Rovers. He went on to score 35 goals for the club, including the winning goal in the 1978 FAI Cup Final.
After Rovers, he moved on to Drogheda United to take up the player-manager's role and he showed no signs of hanging up his boots by bagging 11 more goals.
He returned to Home Farm as manager between 1982 and 1990 before ultimately returning to Rovers as manager in 1992 and guided them to their first league title in 30 years in 1994.
He also managed the international schoolboy side, having previously played as a schoolboy international.
When the football ended, Mr Treacy later became the FAI's official travel agent, bring thousands of Irish fans to away games all over the world.
Ray is survived by his wife Jenny, children Lisa, Karen, John and Gary.
His Requiem Mass will be at the Church of St Laurence O'Toole in Kilmacud in Dublin tomorrow at 11.30am.