N.I. heartbreak as promising young footballer dies suddenly

Tributes have been paid to a promising young football star from Co Down who died suddenly at the weekend.
Max Wilson.Max Wilson.
Max Wilson.

Max Wilson, who was 17, died on Sunday at his home in Rathfriland.

The teenager, who is a past pupil of Rathfriland High School, was one of three children to Alan and Kathy.

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His football club, Rathfriland FC, described him as a “one of the club’s most promising young stars”.

The club said: “Nothing made his father Alan and grandfather Sammy more proud than seeing him following in their footsteps by pulling on the white shirt every Saturday.”

They added: “Football was Max’s passion in life and in rain, hail or shine he was always certain to be there.

“Max was a likeable and lively character, winning many end-of-season awards throughout his youth career, and he also represented the under-13 Mid-Ulster Select Team at the Foyle Cup.”

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He made the transition comfortably to senior football becoming a regular at full back.

On his debut for the first team, aged just 15, Max came off the bench to score against a strong Downpatrick side in a battle for second place in the Amateur League Premier Division.

The day before he died he had played for the club against Cleary Celtic.

The club said: “As usual he didn’t pull out of any tackles, he hit his opposition hard and he came away with his trademark yellow card.

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“Max will be sorely missed and we ask everyone to look after and support each other, particularly his family, friends and young teammates who are struggling to come to terms with this terrible tragedy.

“This week a dark cloud hangs over Iveagh Park.

“It is almost impossible to comprehend our club without Max but he will always be remembered by us for his outstanding talent on the pitch and infectious character off it."

The Mid Ulster Youth League commented: “It is with a very heavy heart that we share the news of the sudden passing of one of our former Foyle Cup players Max Wilson, aged 17.

“Max was an integral part of the squad in 2014.

“The league would like to pass on our sincere condolences to the entire Wilson family circle.”

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Scores of other clubs have been in touch with Rathfriland FC and the Mid Ulster Youth League to pass on their sympathies.

Max’s former school, Rathfriland High School, said: “Our school community were shocked and saddened to hear of the untimely passing of past pupil Max Wilson.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time. To his Dad Alan, Mum Kathy and sisters Tia and Molly we offer our heartfelt sympathy.”

Max’s funeral will take place on Friday at noon from his home at Drumlough Road, Rathfriland to Third Rathfriland Presbyterian Church for a service at 1pm.

Afterwards he will be laid to rest in the adjoining burial ground.

His funeral notice said he “will be lovingly remembered and proudly missed by his Dad, Mum, sisters and family circle”.