Northern Ireland news

Family of Robert ‘Archie' Rainey who died at Northern Ireland match thank fans for support

Northern Ireland players are to wear black armbands in memory of Robert 'Archie' Rainey, who died during the game against Ukraine. Picture by Pacemaker
Gareth McKeown and Michael McHugh, Press Association

THE family of a man who died during the last Northern Ireland Euro 2016 fixture have thanked fans for their huge support.

Robert "Archie" Rainey, from Belfast, collapsed in the stadium at the Ukraine match in Lyon and could not be resuscitated.

A family statement said: "We would like to thank everyone for the huge support and kind messages that we have received since dad died in France.

"It has been a great comfort to us all in this very difficult time.

"We would also respectfully ask for privacy at this sensitive time so that we can be together with friends and family to grieve our loss."

Mr Rainey, who died from a suspected heart attack, will be remembered on Tuesday at the team's final group game.

The 64-year-old from Belfast collapsed around 45 minutes into the game in Lyon on Thursday.

On Tuesday fans will chant his name and applaud during the 64th minute of the game against world champions Germany in Paris, following a request on social media from Mr Rainey's son Mark.

He said: "As a tribute to my dad the Northern Ireland fans, Green and White Army, are planning to have at the 64th minute of the Northern Ireland versus Germany match on Tuesday night a united chant of 'Archie, Archie, Archie'.

"Can everyone please share this post as far and wide as possible so we can make this go down in history to remember a great man."

The Northern Ireland players are also planning to wear black armbands in memory of Mr Rainey in their final group match.

A win will guarantee Northern Ireland's progression into the last 16, although if results are favourable even a defeat may not prevent progress.

Meanwhile, the funeral of Darren Rodgers, who died eight days ago in France, is due to take place later this week in his native Ballymena.

The 24-year-old fell to his death from a promenade in Nice where he had been supporting Northern Ireland at their opening Euro fixture.

At the Ukraine match players wore black armbands as a mark of respect and both sets of fans applauded during the 24th minute.

The funeral of Darren, the only son of Paul and Jacqueline Rodgers, is to take place in St Patrick's Church, Ballymena on Saturday. A time has yet to be arranged.

It is understood Mr Rodgers's remains are not expected back home until Wednesday or Thursday.

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