Roddy Collins has led the tributes to his former Waterford player Roy Butler, who tragically passed away on Tuesday at the age of just 23.
Described by Collins as a brilliant kid and role model, Roy won Waterford’s U19 Player of the Year in December 2015, progressing to the First Division team the following season.
Most recently, he had returned to his senior team of his beloved local club Villa FC, where he had played previously alongside the likes of Jayson Molumby. "Devastated," the Ireland midfielder said today on social media in response to the shocking death. "An unbelievably nice guy - RIP Roy."
Roy Butler RIP | Waterford FC is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former player and true Blues fan Roy Butler.— Waterford FC (@WaterfordFCie) August 18, 2021
Roy joined the Blues in 2014 from Villa FC and the tough centre-back became a regular in the club’s underage setup. pic.twitter.com/JP3rvMmcq0
Collins was similarly bristling from his former player’s passing, which followed a sudden illness.
“I was absolutely devastated when informed of this tragedy,” said Collins, who intends visiting Roy’s heartbroken parents, Martin and Angela, and his brother Aaron, over the coming days.
“I managed thousands of kids and Roy was a special kid. He came into my team as a teen but I soon saw that he became a man, well able to play at centre-back or right-back. He reminded me so much of Ryan McBride, another young League of Ireland man taken too early.
“Roy was a talented player with a bright future but, more importantly, Roy was a brilliant character.” Veteran manager Collins, who previously took charge of Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers, recounts Roy’s role in an U19 match to exemplify his leadership qualities.
“Money was tight at Waterford, so we couldn’t afford an U19 manager,” he explains.
“Our first-team had played on Friday night but for the U19 match at Bray the next day, I offered to take the team.
“Roy organised getting all the players onto the bus in Waterford but, when he got to the ground, it was his speech that made the hairs stand up my neck.
“For a player, he spoke not just as a captain but as a manager in the dressing-room. With such inspirational characteristics, it was clear that he’d go far in life and I’m so sad that it’s been cut short in these circumstances.”
Waterford FC tweeted: "Roy's passion saw him give back to his club Villa FC as a player, coach and trusted clubman; a valued member of the local club.
"All at Waterford FC wish to pass it's condolences to Roy's family, friends, and club and teammates. May he rest in peace."