Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Footballing talent saw Manchester City offer Nevin Spence a trial

Nevin Spence, 22, came to prominence playing for Ulster Rugby and was a rising star in Ireland's international rugby scene
Nevin Spence, 22, came to prominence playing for Ulster Rugby and was a rising star in Ireland's international rugby scene
Nevin Spence on the family farm. Pacemaker press
A painting of Nevin Spence by his sister Emma.
A book of condolence is opened at Ravenhill rugby ground, Belfast
Flowers are laid at Ravenhill in memory of young rugby star Nevin Spence
Nevin Spence, 22, came to prominence playing for Ulster Rugby and was a rising star in Ireland's international rugby scene
Flowers are laid at Ulster Rugby, Ravenhill Grounds, in memory of young rugby star Nevin Spence
Tributes are laid at Ulster Rugby, Ravenhill Grounds, in memory of young rugby star Nevin Spence
Nevin Spence, father Noel and brother Graham
Nevin Spence playing for Ulster last December against the Scarletts
Nevin Spence at Ulster's summer camp
Nevin Spence in action for Ulster against Bath
Nevin Spence with Ulster team-mate Nigel Brady back in December 2010
Nevin Spence relaxing down on the farm
Nevin Spence (far left) with young Oscar Knox who suffers from a rare form of cancer
Flowers are laid at Ravenhill Grounds in memory of young rugby star Nevin Spence, who died when he fell into a slurry pit
Nevin Spence died along with his father and brother at their farm when they fell into a slurry pit (John Dickson/Ulster Rugby/PA)
Tributes for Nevin Spence and his family left at Ravenhill
An Ulster Rugby flag at Ravenhill pays tribute to Nevin Spence and his family
Flowers are laid at Ravenhill Ground in memory of Nevin Spence, who died on Saturday
Nevin Spence, who died alongside his father Noel and brother Graham

Had Nevin Spence decided on a different career path his name could have been listed alongside Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli rather than Johann Muller and Ruan Pienaar.

Tipped as a possible successor to Brian O’Driscoll in the Ireland number 13 shirt, Spence also played schoolboy international football in his teens.

And such was his all-round sporting ability that scouts from a number of top clubs were keen on him — including the current Premier League champions.

“Nevin played at right-back in the team that beat England in 2005 — our first win against England in the Victory Shield in 72 years,” said Desi Currie, the Irish FA’s Technical Director and manager of the Northern Ireland under-16 international team.

“He was at Dromore High School at the time and his PE teacher Raymond Hill, who played Irish League football, told me about him.

“In that squad we had Nevin, Sean O’Neill, who is a regular in the Tyrone GAA squad and then Ryan McGivern and Corry Evans who have gone on to play for Northern Ireland at senior international level, so there was a mix of sporting talent in the squad.

“Nevin was offered a few trials and Manchester City were one of the clubs who were interested.

“He preferred to stay at home and help on the farm and by that stage he’d also been offered a place at Wallace High School.

“He went on to play for Wallace in the Schools’ Cup final a couple of years later and I don’t know of anyone else who has played at such a high level at both football and rugby as a schoolboy.”

“He was an absolute joy to be around. So easily handled and he was very popular with his peers,” Currie added.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre