Republic fans join tributes to Northern Ireland fan who died in Nice
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans have united in tribute to tragic Darren Rodgers.
On Monday the keen amateur footballer, 24, fell eight metres from a promenade in Nice on France’s south coast and died soon afterwards. He was part of a Green and White Army which has been shaken by the death of one of their own.
At a shrine where he died a Northern Ireland flag and Irish tricolour were placed side by side.
Republic supporters applauded to mark the Ballymena electrician’s memory during their side’s clash with Sweden.
John McConnell from Newtownabbey, 48, said: “It was an amazing gesture, it really was.”
“Greatly appreciated I am sure by all the Northern Ireland supporters.”
He said he was saddened by the death.
“Someone has gone out to see a football match and has not gone home.”
Irish President Michael D Higgins has said he hopes Euro 2016 will bring the people of Northern Ireland and the Republic closer together.
But it has happened in the most poignant of circumstances.
Emmett McAuley, 31, from Dublin, said there was no reason not to get on with the northern neighbours.
“No one wants to be arguing. We’re here for the football. We’re not like the English or the Russians. We’re not here for trouble.
“We’re just Irish. We just want to come over and have fun. Best of luck to them.”
David Reynolds, 38, who is from Leixlip in County Kildare, but lives in Bristol, said he came across a few Northern Ireland fans in the fan zone in Paris.
“It was good natured, a bit of banter. They were just up for the craic like everyone else,” he said, adding: “And we’ve got Martin O’Neill – Northern Ireland captain, and he’s our manager.”
David Ahern, 27, from Cork, said: “There would never be any trouble between us like. It’s just been good banter. There’s always great camaraderie .
“We’d be happy if Northern Ireland progressed and whatnot. It’s always good to see our neighbouring countries doing well.”
Barry Kehoe, 25, from Dublin, recalled good-natured exchanges en route to France and recalled Northern Ireland supporters at the airport holding the tricolour and the Irish bearing the Northern Ireland flag.
Peter Marshall, 28, from Lisburn, said the death was more important than any rivalries and lauded the gesture from his southern counterparts.
“It is the way it should be. They did the right thing so fair play to them.”