Belfast Telegraph

Tributes to Belfast footballer Sean Hamilton (12) who died after heart attack

Sean Hamilton. Credit: St Patrick's FC
Sean Hamilton. Credit: St Patrick's FC

Tributes have been paid to a young footballer from north Belfast who passed away after a heart attack on Sunday.

Sean Hamilton died after suffering a heart attack following an operation at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin.

The 12-year-old, from the New Lodge area was a member of St Patrick's Football Club from the age of four. He attended St Gerard's School in west Belfast.

His family are asking mourners to wear green to represent St Patrick's or red to represent Manchester United, who Sean supported, at his funeral on Saturday.

Sean's family said they wanted to funeral to "celebrate his life" and are planning to hold a special event at Girdwood Community Hub following the funeral at 1pm.

Patrick Downey, Chairman of St Patrick's FC, told the Irish News that Sean's death was "devastating".

"Sean faced everything head on, he was such a brave lad," he said.

"He was a good kid and a good footballer, he was known as the quiet man until you put a football at his feet, super strong and committed.

Mr Downey said that "football was in Sean's blood", but that he suffered with "genetic problems on both sides of Sean's family that caused heart problems".

"All Sean wanted to do was play football," he said.

"His last season was 2017/18 when he played for the 07s Panthers and his wee squad in their first campaign won the league and cup double.

"He played that full season but then it started to take his toll, we didn't know if it was because of the high standard he was playing at or what.

"So we flagged it up with the family and they took him to the hospital for an early check-up. The doctors were horrified at how much his condition had deteriorated. We were all shocked."

The St Patrick's chairman said that as Sean underwent treatment he "faced every hurdle with his chest out, he just wanted to be back on that football pitch".

"His main valves were clogged and closed so he had two minor operations to put stents in," Mr Downey said.

"The last operation was because the major artery to the heart needed widened, he came through the operation OK.

"But four hours after he took a massive heart attack."

Mr Downey said that surgeons worked to revive Sean but his "brain was starved of oxygen".

He said that Sean's passing was "heart-wrenching" and that his family "want to celebrate the memory of their beloved son" at his funeral on Saturday.

St Gerard's Principal Stephen Ramsey described Sean as a "highly valued member of our year eight group".

"Sean was a beautiful, kind young lad who was exceptionally popular with his peers and the staff alike," he said.

"Sean was a highly talented sportsman but his most outstanding quality was his modest and unassuming personality that drew warmth and affection from all who knew or met him."

A fundraising page has been set up to raise money for Our Lady's Children Hospital Heart Ward and the Children's Heartbeat Trust in memory of Sean.

Anyone wishing to donate can do so by visiting the page here.

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