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Shay was the 'brightest star'


FAREWELL: The funeral procession of Shetemi Ayetigbo leaves Donabate Community Centre

FAREWELL: The funeral procession of Shetemi Ayetigbo leaves Donabate Community Centre

Conor McCabe

Shetemi Ayetigbo collapsed yesterday afternoon

Shetemi Ayetigbo collapsed yesterday afternoon


FAREWELL: The funeral procession of Shetemi Ayetigbo leaves Donabate Community Centre

"Once a Belvo boy, always a Belvo boy. We will never forget you. Keep on dancing and smiling."

That was the message signed on a framed jersey carried by the boys of Belvedere Football Club as they said goodbye to their fallen teammate Shetemi Ayetigbo on Saturday.

Sixteen-year-old Shetemi, who was affectionately known as Shay by his teammates, had dreams of becoming a professional footballer.

His brother Wale told the hundreds gathered for the memorial service at the Donabate and Portrane Community Centre that he mourns for the future his brother could have had.

"He was one of a kind, he stood on his own. He knew what he wanted to do and how to get it," he said.

It was last weekend while playing the sport he loved that Shay collapsed. The tragedy unfolded during a break in play in a game between Shay's team, Belvedere FC, and St Kevin's Boys FC. Desperate attempts to revive him at the scene failed and he was subsequently pronounced dead at Beaumont Hospital.

The devastating impact of his death on his local community was evident in the hundreds of people who turned out for his memorial service. People lined the walls of the hall and more gathered outside to hear the service. Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe and senior representatives from the FAI were in attendance.

Shay's family, his heartbroken mother Lola, father Zac and brothers Wale and Victor, had asked mourners not to wear black, and the congregation obliged. His teammates wore their sky blue jerseys and the boys of St Kevin's FC paid their respects in their orange kit.

Mourners, many of whom were in their teens, were surrounded by pictures of the popular young man documenting his time in school and exploits on the pitch. His name was spelled out in a giant collage of similar pictures. As mourners entered the hall, they were greeted by a video of Shay dancing in the Belvedere FC dressing room.

It was a hugely emotional service with the teenager's friends, teammates, classmates, teachers and coaches paying tribute to him. Friends brought gifts, symbols of his life including the jersey, a photo montage of his time in football, custard creams, Maltesers, and a comb. One friend told the congregation the one thing Shetemi would want him to tell them was: "stay happy, keep believing and never stop smiling".

Belvedere FC manager Tommy Kenny said he was a "smashing, smashing kid" and spoke of the moments before Shay's last game when he energised the team with his dancing. Shay had told him his ambition was to be a great player: "I said, you already are. He said 'no, I haven't even started yet'".

Shay's Player of the Year trophy was presented to his family during the service.

"Shay, you were the brightest star in a very bright group," Mr Kenny said.

Sunday Independent