Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill leads tributes to tragic Darren Rodgers after fall death
Michael O'Neill has said the tragic death of young Northern Ireland fan Darren Rodgers has put the Euro 2016 finals into perspective for him and his players.
Speaking yesterday Northern Ireland boss O'Neill said everyone in the squad was devastated by the news that 24-year-old Ballymena man Darren had died in Nice following a fall hours after his heroes had lost 1-0 to Poland in their opening group game in the tournament.
Clearly upset, O'Neill said: "We came back in the early hours of Monday morning, everyone was obviously very disappointed to hear the news this morning regarding young Darren Rodgers - the tragedy and nature of his death really does put things in perspective.
"Despite the result on Sunday night, it was still a joyous occasion, the atmosphere in the stadium was fantastic - certainly the fans enjoyed themselves and really added to a wonderful atmosphere.
"Ultimately to find out that someone so young had lost their life affects everyone really."
“The players are very down about it and they pass on their deepest sympathies to both the family and the friends who were out with Darren. It’s very, very sad.”
Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis and his team-mates sent messages of sympathy to Darren’s family.
Northern Ireland fans will hold a minute’s applause in the 24th minute of Thursday’s game against Ukraine in Lyon and the Irish FA are hoping for the go-ahead from Uefa for the Northern Ireland players to wear black armbands during the match. The IFA have also asked Uefa about holding a minute’s silence prior to kick-off.
O’Neill said: “My message to the supporters is make sure you look after each other while you are out here. Please enjoy yourselves and have a great time but please be careful. Take care of each other.
“Hopefully come Thursday the team and supporters show their togetherness for Darren Rodgers and his family and I know it will be a fitting tribute.
“I can only imagine what his family are going through. I can only pass on my condolences and sympathies to his family and friends.”