Northern Ireland news

Northern Ireland fan who died in Nice has been named as Darren Rodgers

John Monaghan
13 June, 2016 09:32

THE Northern Ireland football fan who died in Nice has been named locally as Darren Rodgers from Ballymena.

The young man fell over a barrier and onto a beach.

The tragedy happened at around 2am this morning, several hours after Northern Ireland had lost their opening game against Poland in the city.

A keen footballer, Mr Rodgers was on the books of Braid United FC, and was a former player with Wakehurst. He had arrived in France on Friday night on a flight from Dublin.

French police said the young man had been drinking and fell from the promenade 

A French National Police spokesman said: "It seems it was drink. He was walking and went over the barrier, because he was drinking he crossed the barrier and fell eight metres."

Northern Ireland players have led tributes.

Nice's Promenade des Anglais is famed as a landmark of the city and runs for some four miles. Below it lies a rocky pebble beach.

It is a popular walking and cycling route and was thronged with supporters returning from the match on Sunday night.

Many of the fans had congregated around the area of the Place Massena in the old part of the city.

The death is not related to disorder which took place at the weekend, when Northern Ireland and Poland fans were attacked outside a bar in the city.

A PSNI spokesman said: "We are aware that a man from Northern Ireland aged in his twenties has died in Nice, France, this morning. There are no further details of the actual incident that the PSNI can confirm.

"As this occurred in France, this is a matter for the French authorities."

The IFA said in a statement: "The thoughts of everyone at the IFA are with the family of the Northern Ireland supporter who tragically passed away in Nice last night."

Ulster Unionist North Antrim MLA Robin Swann said that his "thoughts and prayers were with Darren's family at this difficult time".

Family and friends paid tribute to Mr Rodgers, a former pupil of Cambridge House Grammar, on social media as a "gentleman" who had "simply wanted to go to France to support his country like everyone else".

One wrote:"Can't believe the news I've heard this morning... Darren Rodgers you were an absolute gent..I had all the time in the world for you... you will be truly missed xo."

Another said he was "in complete shock" at the news.

"I'll always remember the two of us going to our first NI game and missing the first half because neither of us had a clue where Windsor Park was. Rest easy wee man."

13 June, 2016 09:32 Northern Ireland news