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Funeral of tragic Euro 2016 fan Darren Rodgers set for Friday

By Nevin Farrell and Adrian Rutherford

Published 20/06/2016

Darren Rodgers
Darren Rodgers
Robert Rainey

The funeral of Northern Ireland football fan Darren Rodgers, who tragically died at the Euro 2016 finals, is set to take place later this week.

A service for 24-year-old Darren from Meadowvale, Ballymena, is provisionally scheduled to take place at St Patrick's Church of Ireland in the town on Friday.

News of the funeral came as the son of another Northern Ireland fan who died in France paid an emotional Father's Day tribute to his dad.

Supporters plan to applaud and chant Belfast man Robert 'Archie' Rainey's name at tomorrow's game against Germany in the 64th minute, to match his age. His son Mark wrote online: "As a tribute to my dad, the Northern Ireland fans are planning to have at the 64th minute of the Northern Ireland v Germany match on Tuesday night a united chant of Archie, Archie, Archie".

Mark said he wanted as many people as possible to remember "a great man". He also posted a moving message yesterday, on Father's Day, remembering his dad.

He wrote: "Rest in Peace, you will live on in our hearts and memories forever. With love from all your boys".

Mr Rainey suffered a fatal heart attack as he watched Thursday's game in Lyon.

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

The Irish Football Association has asked Uefa for permission for players to wear black armbands. Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill spoke of his sadness.

He said: "We were all shocked when we heard this sad news after the game.

"The thoughts of all the players and the back room staff are with Robert's family and friends at this time."

Supporters at Thursday's match who learned of the tragedy placed shirts, scarves and flags in the stand in Mr Rainey's memory. He took ill around 50 minutes into the game at the Stade de Lyon.

It was the second tragedy to rock the team's Euro 2016 campaign, following the death of Darren Rodgers in Nice. Emotional tributes were paid to Darren during the Ukraine game. Fans have come together to raise thousands of pounds in memory of the two men.

A notice on the website of James Henry Funeral Services said Friday is the expected date of Darren's funeral, but the exact time has yet to be finalised.

It is understood Darren's remains are not expected back in Ballymena until Wednesday or Thursday. Darren - known as 'Dar Dar' to his friends - died suddenly in Nice after a fall of more than 20 feet from a promenade.

Hours earlier he watched Northern Ireland's opening game against Poland. He was the only son of Jacqueline and Paul Rodgers. Many fans have been wearing Northern Ireland shirts with Dar Dar and the number 24 on the back in tribute to the popular Darren who was well known in Ballymena as a footballer in a local league.

At Northern Ireland's second match of the tournament against Ukraine on Thursday players wore black armbands as a mark of respect. And both sets of fans gave Darren a huge ovation in the 24th minute of the game to coincide with his age.

Belfast Telegraph

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