Northern Ireland fan Darren Rodgers who died in Nice fall laid to rest
Funeral for supporter ahead of Wales tie
A funeral service for Northern Ireland football fan Darren Rodgers who tragically died at the Euro finals in France has taken place just hours before his heroes meet Wales in the last 16 of the tournament.
The service for the 24-year-old from Meadowvale in Ballymena was at St Patrick's Church of Ireland in the town with interment following at Ballee Cemetery. Originally the funeral had provisionally been planned for today.
Darren - known as 'Dar Dar' by his friends - died in Nice after a fall from a promenade. Hours earlier he watched Northern Ireland's opening game against Poland in the city on Sunday, June 12.
He was the only son of Jacqueline and Paul Rodgers.
In France, many fans have been wearing Northern Ireland shirts with Dar Dar and the number 24 on the back in tribute to popular Darren who was well-known in Ballymena as a footballer in the local league.
Others have been wearing shirts with the number eight on the back which was the number he wore for Braid United in the Ballymena Saturday Morning League.
At Northern Ireland's match against Ukraine, 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.
Republic of Ireland supporters also paid tribute to Darren by singing Stand up for the Ulsterman in the 24th minute of their match against Sweden.
After Northern Ireland qualified for the last 16, friends of Darren's dedicated the achievement to him.
Ryan Tweed said on Facebook: "It just breaks my heart that we are coming home to lay our friend Darren Rodgers to rest.
"Genuinely such a nice fella and you always knew you were gonna get a good laugh when he was there."
The funeral for the second Northern Ireland fan to die suddenly at the tournament has also been arranged.
Father-ofthree Robert Rainey (62) collapsed and died in the stands at the Stade de Lyon as he watched Northern Ireland on their way to a glorious 2-0 win over Ukraine. After a service at his Belfast home at 2pm on Tuesday, there will be a celebration of his life at Roselawn Crematorium at 3.30pm.