Irish soccer fans to receive award from Uefa
The father of a young Irishman who drowned while at Euro 2012 has said it is a great honour to have a Uefa award dedicated to his son.
James Nolan's father Jimmy thanked Ireland supporters who have been recognised with a special tribute for being the best fans during their short-lived spell at the competition.
"I am deeply touched by this," Mr Nolan said.
"It is a great honour and I would like to thank the amazing support that we have received at this difficult time from supporters of Ireland in every part of the world."
Mr Nolan's 21-year-old son drowned in the River Brda in the town of Bydgoszcz in Poland the weekend before Ireland's final match against Italy in Poznan.
The engineering student had been travelling with a group of friends and stopped in the town en route to the game when he went missing.
His funeral took place earlier this week in Blessington, Co Wicklow, with Irish goalkeeper Shay Given and Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive John Delaney paying their repsects. Captain Robbie Keane's wife Claudine also attended the Mass.
Uefa president Michel Platini announced in the Ukrainian capital Kiev today he would present a special award to Irish fans to recognise their great behaviour and contribution at Euro 2012.
At the pre-final press conference the former France star said he intends to travel in person to Dublin to make the presentation.
The FAI followed the announcement by dedicating the award to the memory of James Nolan.
Association president Paddy McCaul said: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank Uefa president Michel Platini for his decision to recognise the incredible support that our fans showed during the tournament. They were a credit to the country and won praise everywhere they went in Poland, striking up a great relationship with everyone they met.
"I am glad that the award will be dedicated to James Nolan whose passing has touched us all."
Mr Delaney added: "Irish supporters deserve this award for their incredible commitment, behaviour and friendliness during the tournament. They did the country proud and added something really special to the championships.
"I thank Uefa for their recognition and I am glad that the award will be accepted by James Nolan's parents whose tragic loss left all Irish fans deeply saddened after the tournament."
Ger Keville, of the Irish supporters group You Boys in Green, said every single fan he had spoken to was proud of how supporters stuck behind the team through thick and thin.
"Irish fans struck up a great rapport with everyone in Poland and the fact that our site got 46,000 visits from Polish fans who are still singing our songs says it all," he said.
"On behalf of supporters, it is fitting that this award will be in memory of James Nolan whose tragic death was a great loss to us all."