Wednesday 18 October 2017

Northern Ireland players pay tribute to dead fan (25) and seek minute's silence

Darren Rodgers, left, fell from a promenade onto a rocky beach. Michael O'Neill, right, has relayed how upset his players were at the news
Darren Rodgers, left, fell from a promenade onto a rocky beach. Michael O'Neill, right, has relayed how upset his players were at the news

Michael McHugh

The Northern Ireland team are seeking a minute's silence for Darren Rodgers ahead of Thursday's Euro 2016 game against Ukraine.

Players also want to wear black armbands in memory of the Ballymena man who fell to his death from a promenade in Nice in the early hours of Monday.

Supporters are planning to stage a minute's applause in the 24th minute of the Lyon fixture. The popular amateur footballer was aged 24.

Patrick Nelson, Irish Football Association (IFA) chief executive, said: "The young lad came out to watch some games of football, part of a huge movement from Northern Ireland, a very joyous movement, and it's a tragedy for his family and his friends."

He supported fans' efforts to have a minute's applause.

"We'll ask UEFA whether it's appropriate to have a minute's silence before the game and/or to wear black armbands."

Manager Michael O'Neill said the players were very down.

"My message to the supporters is make sure you look after each other while you are out here. Please enjoy yourselves and have a great time but please be careful. Take care of each other.

"I can only imagine what his family are going through - going out here with your friends, to be part of the tournament, and then for the parents to find out the nature of the tragedy, I'm sure is terrible.

"In truth, I can't imagine what that feeling will be like."

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