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Footballer hails loyal fan Jim as his winners' medal is returned

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Alan Simpson and Coleraine FC player Eoin Bradley at the funeral

Alan Simpson and Coleraine FC player Eoin Bradley at the funeral

Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Eoin Bradley holds his Irish Cup medal which he had given to Jim Nesbitt

Eoin Bradley holds his Irish Cup medal which he had given to Jim Nesbitt

Alan Simpson and Coleraine FC player Eoin Bradley at the funeral

After helping Coleraine FC to win the Irish Cup in 2018, Eoin Bradley decided to give his winners' medal to one of the club's most loyal supporters - but he did not expect to be getting it back so soon.

For the past two years, that medal has been a prized possession of Jim Nesbitt, father of TV and film star James Nesbitt, in his bungalow overlooking the north Atlantic ocean.

At yesterday's funeral of the 91-year-old former primary school principal and lifelong Coleraine fan in Castlerock, Bradley reluctantly took the medal back and promised the Nesbitt family he will treasure it in memory of one of the club's biggest supporters.

"I wasn't looking it back," said Bradley, who scored the third goal in a 3-1 victory over Cliftonville in the 2018 showcase at Windsor Park.

"It wasn't something I ever expected to be holding again.

"But when James told me it was one of his father's final wishes I was only too happy to receive it knowing it was what Jim has wanted. I've never been one to collect medals.

"But I was touched when James said it was one of his father's final wishes. I'm just pleased it meant so much to him.

"I've won a few in my career in football and GAA, but there are loyal fans who never get the chance to hold one, let along have one of their own. I thought I knew someone who might appreciate having it. So when we won the cup I quickly decided to pass it on to Jim."

Bradley said it was not something he ever expected to have returned. He added: "Jim was always been one of our greatest supporters. He would sometimes have sat with me on the bus to matches and we always got on really well. We've had some great chats down the years. There was never a quiet moment when Jim was around.

"He was always there in the stands and I'm sure he yelled a word or two at me and a few of the other players, maybe not always complimentary!

"It's a sad day and everyone at Coleraine FC will miss him greatly. All at the club pass on our sympathies to the Nesbitt family. We'll miss all those chats."

Belfast Telegraph