Tragic Northern Ireland fan who fell to his death at Euro 2016 remembered at funeral service
Published 25/06/2016 | 16:05
Hundreds of mourners have gathered to say farewell to a tragic Northern Ireland football fan who died in a fall hours after his team's first game at Euro 2016 in France.
Darren Rodgers, 24, a talented amateur footballer himself, was killed after falling from a seafront wall in Nice in the early hours of June 13.
The evening before he had witnessed Northern Ireland play Poland in the city.
Friends and family were at St Patrick's parish church in the electrician's hometown of Ballymena, Co Antrim, for a funeral service.
A number of mourners wore Northern Ireland shirts while members of the Church Lads' Brigade and Mr Rodgers's football club, Braid United FC, formed a guard of honour outside the church.
The service was held hours before Northern Ireland's last 16 match with Wales in Paris.
In Northern Ireland's second game of the tournament, against Ukraine in Lyon, supporters clapped and sang Mr Rodgers's name in the 24th minute - 24 signifying his age when he died.
Some Republic of Ireland fans made a similar gesture in the 24th minute of their first match against Sweden and sang "Stand up for the Ulsterman".
Flags of both teams were among scores of tributes left at an ad hoc shrine in Nice at the scene of the accident.
Ahead of the funeral, Mr Rodgers's father Paul thanked all those who had paid tribute to his son.
"On behalf of myself, my wife, and the entire Rodgers family, we would like to convey our sincere and heartfelt thanks to every single person who has sent us cards, called with us and supported ourselves and Darren all over Ireland, Europe and also internationally," he said.
"The sheer amount of love, goodwill and outpouring of grief has left us with memories that will live with us the rest of our lives.
"To all the supporters from every country who have left mementos, shirts, scarves, flags and messages of love and support at the site of Darren's accident, we can never express how much all of this means to us."