'I'm shocked and saddened' - Darren Randolph pays tribute to talented footballer (12) who played with his old club
Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph has paid tribute to a talented young footballer who died suddenly this weekend after being hospitalised with a high fever.
Aaron O'Kelly, from the Herbert Road area of Bray, Co Wicklow, collapsed on Saturday at his home and was taken to Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin where he tragically passed away.
The young keeper played with Ardmore Rovers FC and was a highly valued player at the club.
Middlesborough keeper Darren Randolph, who played with Ardmore in his early days, took to social media to pay his respects.
"Shocked & saddened today to hear of the death of young goalkeeper Aaron O’Kelly, only 12 yrs of age. At my old club, Ardmore Rovers FC. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP," he wrote.
Aaron's devastated dad released a statement via the club, on behalf of Aaron’s mum, Sharon, and sister and brother, Eleanor and Robert.
"We have received great comfort from the messages of support that have come from Aaron’s team mates, their families and the wider Ardmore Rovers family," Mr O'Kelly said.
"Playing for his team and representing his club was a huge part of his short life and an incredible source of happiness for him.
"We would like the funeral to celebrate Aaron’s life and would ask people to wear splashes of Red which was Aaron’s favorite colour. Ardmore jerseys will be a welcome sight.
"While we are broken we realise that the gift we had having Aaron in our life for such a short period outweighs the pain we now feel.
"Thank you all for your support."
Aaron was due to turn 13 on Wednesday, January 10.
His funeral will take place Thursday morning at 12pm at St. Fergal's Church, Ballywaltrim, Bray, followed by interment in Springfield Cemerery, Killarney Road, Bray.
Mourners have been asked to wear something red to celebrate Aaron’s life. No flowers by request. Donations can be made in memory of Aaron, to Bray First Responders.