Grief has engulfed the American soccer community, with news emerging late last week that renowned goalkeeper coach Des McAleenan passed away in his native Ireland at the age of 53.
McAleenan’s stateside career involved numerous stops in Connecticut, leading to local friends and mentors telling New England Soccer Journal stories of reverence and admiration.
McAleenan battled depression, as Quinnipiac women’s soccer head coach Dave Clarke explained, and that surfaced throughout his final months. McAleenan and Clarke originally came stateside one day apart in August 1987 and remained close in the ensuing three-plus decades.
“Des knew he was good, but he almost never believed it,” Clarke said. “Coaching can be an egotistical profession and people sometimes think they’re better than they are and that they’re big-time. Des was the opposite, where he was big-time and thought he was small-time. And yet he was so good at the craft, and you just need to look at the résumé to see it.”