Belfast Telegraph

Rian Nolan's heartbroken teammates pay tribute to tragic Belfast teen

Rian Nolan.
Rian Nolan.

Heartbroken teammates have paid tribute to a popular teenage footballer from west Belfast who died at the weekend after a long illness.

Rian Nolan, who was 14-years-old, played for St James Swift under-16s.

He died on Saturday at the Children's Haematology Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital surrounded by his family.

His teammates were told of his tragic death on Saturday following a match.

Manager Gerard Tate told the Irish News: "We waited until after they had played and I called the kids over to tell them. It was terrible. They are all heartbroken.

"Rian was just a brilliant kid who loved his football."

A minute's silence was held before another game between the St James Swift senior team and Ballymacash Rangers at the weekend.

On its Twitter page, the club wrote: "Heartbroken to hear that one of our junior swifts has sadly lost his battle and passed away, we send all our condolences to his family and loved ones and all his team mates at the club. Today the swifts play for Ryan...RIP our friend."

David Walsh, Junior team treasurer, told the Irish News he had known Rian for three years since joining the club.

"He was one of those kids every coach loves. He was always at training come rain, hail or shine," he said.

"He was very passionate about his football and did everything you asked of him. The whole team is devastated. They have a very close bond and are a unit. Our thoughts go out to Rian's family."

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