Belfast Telegraph

Anguish of player who had to exit game after son fell ill

BY CLAIRE MCNEILLY

A Northern Ireland footballer has told of his deep concern over his baby son's illness.

Ards midfielder Willie Faulkner was playing against Linfield at Windsor Park on Saturday when he had to leave the pitch just before half-time.

The 23-year-old civil servant rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where his five-month-old boy Luca was being treated for suspected meningitis.

There were hopes that little Luca would be discharged last night, but his father said that doctors were keeping him in.

"They still haven't got to the bottom of what the problem is," Willie said.

"This is very difficult time for Melissa and me. We don't yet know when he'll be getting out of hospital."

Willie and his partner Melissa have been keeping a vigil at their baby son's bedside since he has been undergoing various tests.

The father-of-one had just scored the first goal 70 seconds into the match against the Blues when he was summoned off the pitch in the middle of play.

The game ended 5-2 to Linfield, but Ards manager Niall Currie said the result was unimportant under the circumstances.

"My only thoughts are with Willie and his family circle," said Mr Currie.

Linfield manager David Jeffrey said everyone had been deeply affected by the worrying news.

He added: "What happened had a profound effect on everyone.

"It puts things in to perspective."

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