Joe Brolly has paid tribute to the late Fr Larry Higgins who won a NFL medal with Derry in 1947.
The 87-year-old Magherafelt native later emigrated to become the most high-profile clergyman in the US city of Tampa in Florida.
He died on Wednesday at his rectory home at St Lawrence Catholic Church, a parish he founded in 1958.
Speaking on 'The Sunday Game' before today's All-Ireland SFC semi-final between Dublin and Kerry, Brolly said: "The gaels of Florida lost a great man this week.
"He was an icon there because of his work with the poor. He played tennis with American presidents, he once blessed Fidel Castro. An extraordinary intellectual as well.
"He was the pastor to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and before their big game on Friday night past they had a beautiful tribute to Fr Larry.
"He came to our hotel the morning of the '93 final to wish us luck. Godspeed to him, he was really a most remarkable man."