Rodgers family thanks fans ahead of Ballymena funeral

Darren Rodgers.
Darren Rodgers.

The family of the Northern Ireland fan who fell to his death in Nice following a European Championship game on June 12 has thanked all those who sent kind wishes.

Darren Rodgers died after falling from the French town’s promenade just hours after watching the team play Poland in their first match of the tournament.

The 24-year-old funeral will take place in his home town of Ballymena at lunchtime on Saturday.

His father, Paul Rodgers, said: “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.

“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.”

In a statement on Friday, Mr Rodgers added: “This Saturday we will lay Darren to rest at 12 o’clock in St Patrick’s Church, Ballymena. We hope that the press and media will carry on in the dignified and professional manner in which they have through all of our troubles on what is going to be a very hard day for all of our immediate family.”

When Northern Ireland played Ukraine in Lyon four days after the young fan’s death, the crowd rose in unison on the 24th minute - in reference to the talented footballer’s age - to pay their respects, and a banner in the stadium read: “RIP Darren Rodgers. Remembered by the GAWA.”

A second tragedy struck during the Ukraine game when north Belfast man Robert ‘Archie’ Rainey collapsed and died during the second half of the memorable victory.