Linfield fan who died during Europa League tie with Cork City named as William Ritchie
A Linfield fan who collapsed and died at a match against Cork City in Belfast's Windsor Park stadium has been named as William 'Billy' Ritchie.
Mr Ritchie, who was 68, collapsed minutes before the Linfield were due to face Cork in their Europa League tie.
An Ambulance Service spokesman said that despite emergency resuscitation efforts by paramedics who rushed to the scene in the North Stand, Mr Ritchie's life could not be saved.
The club said in a statement: "It is with profound regret and deep sympathy that Linfield Football Club reports the sad passing of William 'Billy' Ritchie, prior to last night's Europa League game against Cork City at Windsor Park.
"Billy took ill in the upper tier of the North Stand during the pre-match warm up and despite the valiant efforts of the paramedics who worked tirelessly to try and revive him, unfortunately he could not be saved.
"Billy was a regular and faithful supporter at Linfield games as far back as the famous Seven Trophy Winning team of 1961/62 and for the past 5-6 seasons he has been a season ticket holder. Indeed, he only renewed his season ticket on Wednesday this week when he also bought his ticket for last night's game in the Linfield office in the Railway Stand at Windsor Park.
"He attended Linfield games with his good friend Jim McAllister who was with him in the North Stand when tragedy struck before last night's game.
"Billy's son Ryan has been in touch with the club today to thank the paramedics and others who worked to try and resuscitate his father last night and also to thank the hundreds of Linfield and other supporters who've expressed their shock, sadness and sympathy on social media and elsewhere since the sad news broke last night.
"Ryan has also advised that the funeral service for his late father will take place from his home - 10 Fairhill Drive in Carnmoney at 11am on Tuesday and afterwards to Carnmoney cemetery at 12 noon.
"Billy who was aged 68, was a retired fitter who had worked at FG Wilson until his retirement several years ago.
"The deepest sympathy and most sincere condolences of everyone connected to Linfield Football Club ate extended to Billy's wife Ellen, his 3 daughters Karen, Carly and Sarah, as well as son Ryan at this very sad time."
News of the death began to appear on social media channels late last night.
Linfield FC captian Andy Waterworth tweeted: "Terrible, terrible news hearing the passing of a Blue man tonight at game.
"Thoughts and prayers to family. So sad. RIP."
And Linfield goalkeeper Gareth Deane also offered his sympathy to the fan's family.
"Saddened to hear about the Linfield fan who passed away at the game tonight. Thoughts and prayers go out to the family," he tweeted.
Another message on an account for Linfield FC fans read: "Unfortunately I'm hearing that a fan who took ill during tonight's Europa League game vs Cork City FC has sadly passed away.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the man's family and friends this evening. We go to a football match to come again."
The south Belfast side were playing Cork City in the Europa League. Linfield lost 0-1 to the Irish side.