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‘Football has lost a true gentleman’ – Sykes tribute to McLoughlin

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Alex Sykes has described his former Forest Green team-mate Alan McLoughlin, who passed away this week aged 54, as a “proper footballing gent.”

McLoughlin, 54, the former Republic of Ireland midfielder who made more than 350 appearances for Portsmouth in a career that began as an apprentice at Manchester United, revealed in March that he was living with cancer for the second time.

Sykes and McLoughlin played together for Rovers under Nigel Spink at the old Lawn.

Sykes said: “He was a proper footballing gent. One of the games good guys. I managed to message him the other week when I knew he was struggling but the documentary on Jack Charlton highlighted his goal. He was still so appreciative even though he must have been really under the weather.

“In my time with him at FGR he was always encouraging, really eager to pass on information and detail – especially to those younger lads in the squad. When I have since seen him at Swindon and similar- he always had time for you and was truly interested in how you were getting on. Football has lost a true gentleman.”

McLoughlin joined Swindon Town in August 1986 signing on a free transfer from Manchester United and played 126 times over five seasons.

Perhaps his most famous moment in a Swindon shirt was scoring the winning goal at Wembley in the 1990 Second Division Play-Off Final against Sunderland in a 1-0 victory.

During his time in SN1, he became the first Swindon player to ever appear at a World Cup finals, when played against England and Egypt representing the Republic of Ireland.

Following retirement from his playing days, McLoughlin was appointed as Academy manager at the club in February 2018, whilst also being in charge of the U18 side.

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