Football in Ireland, England, and the United States is mourning Jimmy Conway who has died at the age of 73.
The Dubliner was capped 20 times for his country and, in between playing for Bohemians and Manchester City, became synonymous with Fulham for whom he made over 300 appearances, including playing on the losing side in the 1975 FA Cup Final against West Ham.
In 1978, he moved to the United States to join Portland Timbers in the North American Soccer League where, after finishing his playing career, he went into coaching and management, becoming a hugely influential figure in bringing through young footballing talent in Oregon.
Jimmy was diagnosed with dementia in 2009, a condition his family believes was directly related to his football career.
In 2017, his wife Noeleen, who has sought to raise awareness of the issue, was quoted in The Oregonian newspaper as saying that she was “100% certain” her husband’s illness was linked to repeated heading of the ball during his football career.
“Sometimes I look at his eyes and it’s like someone has pulled the shades down,” she said in that interview. “And I think that’s the hardest part. We’ve been married for 45 years. We worked together. We were in each other’s pockets 24/7. And he just went away.”
Manchester City, with whom he played in the 1976/77 season, were one of the first clubs to mark his death, saying “everyone at Manchester City would like to send their condolences to the friends and family of Jimmy Conway who has sadly passed away aged 73.”
FAI Interim Deputy CEO Niall Quinn said: “I am very saddened to hear of Jimmy’s passing and extend our sympathies to his family and friends.
“One of my earliest FA Cup memories is watching the 1975 final when West Ham beat Fulham 2-1 at Wembley and Jimmy was the only non-English player on the field. I can remember being so proud to see an Irishman playing in the FA Cup final, it was an inspirational moment.”
FAI President Gerry McAnaney said: “Jimmy is from a very proud Dublin footballing family. On behalf of everyone connected with Irish football I would like to pass on our condolences to the Conways at this difficult time. May he rest in peace.”