Sport Glentoran boss Mick McDermott pays heartfelt tribute to close friend Des McAleenan
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Glentoran manager Mick McDermott has paid a heartfelt tribute to respected goalkeeping coach and close personal friend Des McAleenan who has passed away suddenly at the age of 53.
The popular Dubliner, who had been working with Carlos Queiroz’s Colombian national team, was a key part of Glentoran’s preparations for last season’s Irish Cup final.
He also worked with American managers Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena in the USA and coached the likes of Tim Howard during almost a decade with the New York Red Bulls.
“When Des was last in Belfast he lived with us and my kids have always called him Uncle Dessie - that’s how close we were,” said McDermott.
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“It’s a big game against a formidable opponent and rightly so with the amount of money they’ve spent and the investment they’ve made in their football team"The Linfield boss estimates the Oval club has splashed out “between £150,000 and £200,000” on high profile signings over the course of the past 18 months.
“He trained our keepers before Elliott Morris took on the role and that included working closely with Elliott ahead of our Irish Cup ties last summer.
“We all saw the benefits of that in the vital part Elliott played for us in both the semi-final and final wins over Cliftonville and Ballymena United. So that success is a small part of Dessie’s legacy.
“We’ve lost a young man in the prime of his life, working in the highest levels of football and living a life that from the outside most young people would dream of.
“It is very sad to lose a friend and colleague of 25 years at any time, let alone suddenly. I’m just sad to lose a great friend and I’ll miss him deeply.”
McAleenan, who had also been part of the USA U20s set-up, spent the past two summers in East Belfast, coaching Glentoran's goalkeepers at all levels.
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He also played an important role for the Oval club’s Europa League ties with FB Torshavn and Motherwell in August.
Colombian manager and former Real Madrid boss Carlos Queiroz paid a poignant tribute to his late colleague on social media.
He wrote: “The best of football is over for me, leaving with you today. RIP Des.”
McAleenan grew up in Dublin and moved to the USA in 1988 to play for Central Connecticut State University for four years, where he also began coaching.
He was subsequently hired by Major League Soccer’s New York/New Jersey Metrostars franchise — latterly the New York Red Bulls – where he stayed for nine years.
Former Red Bulls goalkeeper Jon Conway said: “The biggest thing (about Des) was his passion for the game. He made coming to work everyday fun and exciting.
“He was passionate about getting better as a coach and passionate about making his goalkeepers better. And it really made a difference.”
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