Belfast Telegraph

Football ace Fitzpatrick opens up on family's pain over deaths of two brothers

By Graham Luney

An Irish League footballer has revealed how the loss of two of his brothers had a devastating impact on his family.

Terry Fitzpatrick, who has been with his home town club Dungannon Swifts throughout his career, was a distraught teenager when his brother Bill died in a work accident in 1998 at the age of 25.

Terry (36) then suffered another tragedy when his brother Shaun (32) was murdered in a homophobic attack in 2008.

The midfielder, who has three other brothers - Dominic, Damian and Rory - and two sisters, Stacey and Gail, admitted the two tragedies rocked his family.

"Everyone goes through tough times," said Fitzpatrick, who helped his side win the League Cup this season.

"When Bill died in a work accident in 1998 I was 16," he recalled. "Bill was 25 and married with two children. He was very young and it was a hard time for my mother and father.

"It was brutally tough and I can remember (Swifts stalwarts) Dixie Robinson and Joe McAree approaching me at the funeral to offer their support and there was the sense that the club, Dungannon Swifts, was still with me.

"My other brother Shaun was murdered in 2008 and he was 32. It was a hate crime because my brother was gay and two foreign nationals murdered him.

"There is badness in a lot of people regardless of race or background, I don't hate foreigners because of this. You have the court cases after it and two men were convicted. My father went to the court and I wanted to support him."

Fitzpatrick paid tribute to his parents Bill and Rosemary for having the strength to deal with the devastating loss of two sons, and is also grateful for wife Rosanne's support.

"No parent should have to ever bury a son but my mum and dad had to bury two," added Fitzpatrick - a father to six-year-old Scarlett and three-year-old Bill.

"Coping is the wrong word because there are days which aren't nice, and I know it hit my mum particularly hard, but for them to still be the people they are is unbelievable. They are very strong-minded people. We have a big family and became even closer after the two tragedies.

"Rosanne put up with a lot because, as well as the football, she had to see me go through emotional times. I can't speak highly enough of her. I try to have a good, happy outlook on life because we are only here for a short time.

"I miss my two brothers and think about them every day, but you have to carry on and do the best you can.

"I don't think my mum is the same person because of what has happened, and that is understandable, but I haven't met two stronger people than my parents.

"We had another tragedy when my old Swifts team-mate Gary Bownes took his own life in 2005. Going to funerals brings back memories and they are hard. Gary was a fantastic player, but everyone is fighting their own battles."

Belfast Telegraph

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