Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fan to undergo surgery in Switzerland after fall in Basel

By Claire Williamson

A Northern Ireland fan is due to undergo surgery on his eye this week after he fell and broke his eye socket in Switzerland while supporting the team at the World Cup play-off.

Northern Ireland came close to securing their first World Cup finals spot since 1986 when they reached the play-off stage, beaten only by a contentious penalty at the hands of Switzerland.

Among the travelling members of the Green and White Army was Jim Devlin.

The 68-year-old is a member of the Antrim Northern Ireland Supporter's Club and has been a life-long fan.

But on Sunday afternoon as he and fellow supporters were heading to the main square to meet up with the rest of the fans he took a fall and ended up breaking his eye socket.

There had been torrential rain and he had put his hands in his pockets of his coat when he stumbled on a curb.

Chairman of the Antrim Northern Ireland's Supporter's Club told the Belfast Telegraph:  "Torrential rain came on with hailstones and thunder and lighning.

"He put his hands in his jacket pocket and put his hood up and put his head down and he stumbled on a curb and tripped him and he fell into a wee embankment and landed on the side of his face. He was knocked out and the blood was pouring out.

"I did a bit of first aid and got him in the recovery position. One of the locals phoned for an ambulance for us.

"They took over with him but he broke his eye socket. So a couple of boys went with him to hospital.

"It was absolutely chucking it down when he was lying on the ground."

He continued: "He had broken his eye socket and wouldn't be allowed to fly.

"We were in touch with his family and they came out.

"Thankfully he has travel insurance and it's all covered."

Devastatingly - due to the fall - Jim didn't make it to the match.

"Even in hospital he kept saying do you think I'll be out of here before the game", said Ray.

"But he never made it and they said he would be getting an operation. He's been in contact with us today saying he's getting his operation in the morning and hoping to get out of hospital next Monday."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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