Funeral to take place of Co Antrim footballer (11) who died a week after collapsing at training

Mourners will gather in Larne on Monday for a funeral service for 11-year-old footballer Sammy Haveron who died a week after collapsing during a training session
Marie Louise McConville

THE father of an 11-year-old footballer who died a week after suffering a cardiac arrest, has told of how his family have been left "devastated".

Edwin Haveron, from Larne in Co Antrim, said his family's world "just fell apart" they got a call to say their son Sammy had collapsed during training.

The keen footballer, who was a star player for Wellington Rec Youth, spent the following week in the Paediatric Intensive Care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where he passed away on Wednesday.

In the aftermath of his death, his parents, Gina and Edwin - who have two other boys - made the decision to donate their son's organs in the hope of preventing other families going through the same heartache as them.

Speaking to The Irish News yesterday, Mr Haveron described Sammy - who had been due to start Larne High School next month - as someone who "loved life".

He revealed his son had been diagnosed with a rare heart condition - Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) - as a one year-old.

The condition meant the young sportsman's heart could suddenly beat much faster than normal, however, he had been given the all-clear for physical activity.

Mr Haveron said his son was "always happy" even after undergoing operations for his condition at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

"He was the most genuine, honest wee boy," he said.

"Even after his operations, he couldn't wait to get out to kick a ball.

"I'm proud my kid was able to play for Wellington Rec Youth. He was the main midfielder.

"He never had a bad word to say about anybody. He took everything in his stride and that's where I am getting my strength from at the moment."

Mr Haveron said his family had been left "devastated" by the loss of Sammy, who had dreamed of playing for Arsenal.

"We are gutted," he said.

He also praised the staff at the PIC at the RVH who he said had been "absolutely outstanding".

Mr Haveron said his wanted his son's funeral next week to be a "celebration" and called for a one-minute long applause for his child as his remains are carried from the church.

"We want everyone to come with their football shirts. He would love to see everyone coming together with all their different teams," he said.

The funeral will take place at noon on Monday at First Larne Presbyterian Church with burial afterwards in Larne Cemetery.

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