Eamon Deacy was without question Galway’s greatest soccer player, who played the game at the highest levels both in England with Aston Villa and internationally with the Republic of Ireland.
Eamon, popularly and affectionately known as ‘Chick’, passed away suddenly on Monday. He played with Galway Rovers/Galway United, Derby County, and Limerick FC. However it is for his time with Aston Villa that he will be most remembered.
He is the only Galwegian ever to have played at the highest level of professional football in England. From 1979 to 1984 he was a member of Birmingham club Aston Villa and won a medal with the side when it won the First Division (now Premier League) title in 1980-81. He also played in numerous matches in Villa’s European Cup campaigns in 1982 and 1983 (Villa won the cup in 1982).
Eamon was also capped for Ireland on four occasions, against Algeria, Chile, Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago. In 1985 he was a member of the Galway United team that reached the FAI Cup final. For all these honours he remains Galway’s greatest and most successful soccer player, who set a standard that has yet to be bettered.
Ken McNaught, who played with Eamon on that great Aston Villa team of the early 1980s, said it was “a severe shock” when he heard of his friend’s death and “my thoughts are with his family”.
He described Eamon as a man who “brought a smile to everybody’s face”.
“He could not have been a nicer bloke and all the players from that team will say the same,” said Mr McNaught. “He was on the bench for most of the season when we won the league but whenever he was called upon he came on and did a good job. He was a great character to have around the place and was so unpretentious.
“I remember when he refused to go up and collect his league winner’s medal because he felt he had not contributed enough. He obviously had, because he did a great job every time he was called upon but that was just the way Eamon was. Ron Saunders made him accept it, though, in the end. He was just a great lad to be around.”
Aston Villa FC also paid tribute to their former member.
“Eamon will always have a special place in the history of the club,” the club said in an official statement. “He was a dedicated professional and a man admired greatly by his team-mates. Our thoughts remain with his family at this time.”
The Football Association of Ireland also expressed sympathy. “Eamon was a great servant to Irish football and will be fondly remembered,” said FAI CEO John Delaney. “He will be sadly missed by all Irish football fans.”
Airtricity League chair, Eamon Naughton said: “Eamon was a great servant to Galway football, he really played with his heart on his sleeve, his love of the game shone through every time he took to the pitch. He is sadly missed by all levels of football in Galway