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Funeral for NI fan who collapsed in stands during Ukraine game

By Cate McCurry

Published 29/06/2016

Mourners at the funeral of Robert Rainey yesterday
Mourners at the funeral of Robert Rainey yesterday
A floral tribute outside Robert Rainey's home in Belfast
Robert Rainey

The funeral of the Northern Ireland fan who died while watching his beloved team play in the Euro 2016 finals has taken place a day after his heroes were welcomed home from France.

Father-of-three Robert 'Archie' Rainey (62) collapsed in the stands at the Stade de Lyon as he watched the team during their 2-0 win over Ukraine.

He was the second local football fan to die in France following Darren Rodgers (24) from Ballymena, who was fatally injured after falling from a promenade in Nice.

Friends and family who gathered for the service at his home yesterday paid tribute to the Belfast man. This was followed by a celebration of his life at Roselawn Crematorium.

Irish Football Association memorabilia was placed in the family's garden, including the team's flag bearing his name and date of death, bunting in the team's colours, a floral Northern Ireland crest and a guitar.

The floral tribute was later placed on his coffin as mourners made their way from his north Belfast home.

He is survived by wife Jennifer and sons Mark, Michael and Steven.

Mr Rainey fell ill some 45 minutes into the game on June 16 and medics among the Northern Ireland support raced to help him, but it was too late and he died shortly afterwards.

His heartbroken family said he died doing what he loved best.

The Northern Ireland team wore black armbands in his memory for their game against Germany the following Tuesday, and during the match fans chanted his name.

Devastated son Steven posted on Facebook on Monday night that it was "the final night Archie will stay in his wee castle".

"We'll give him a good send off tomorrow," he wrote. Days after the tragedy a fundraising campaign was set up by a friend. Paul Lismore, who helped raise almost £500 for the family, said he wanted to help with the costs of bringing Mr Rainey's body home.

In a statement the family thanked the community.

"We would like to thank everyone for the huge support and kind messages that we have received since Dad died in France. It has been a great comfort to us all in this very difficult time," they said.

"We would also respectfully ask for privacy at this sensitive time so that we can be together with friends and family to grieve our loss."

In a statement issued shortly after his death the IFA expressed sadness.

Chief executive Patrick Nelson said: "The fan passed away as he was watching the game in the stadium. This puts any result of a football match into perspective.

"The thoughts of the board, management, players and staff are with his family and friends at this sad time."

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