Northern Ireland

Euro 2016: Northern Ireland fan dies after fall in Nice

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Media captionDarren Rodgers was 24 and from Ballymena, County Antrim

A Northern Ireland football fan has died in an accident in France.

It is believed Darren Rodgers, who was 24 and from Ballymena, was on his own and fell about 26ft (8m) from a promenade onto a rocky beach in Nice.

Supt Nigel Goddard, who is leading the PSNI team in France, said he was told it was an accident and not in any way disorder related.

Tributes have been paid to Mr Rodgers by his friends, fellow fans, and by the Irish Football Association (IFA).

Image caption Tributes have been left at the spot where Darren Rodgers fell in Nice

The accident happened in the early hours of Monday, shortly after Northern Ireland played its first match of the Euro 2016 finals against Poland in the city on Sunday night.

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Media captionPSNI Supt Nigel Goddard said the death of Darren Rodgers appears to have been a tragic accident

Mr Rodgers was from the Meadowvale area of the County Antrim town and was a former pupil of Cambridge House Grammar School.

In a statement, his family thanked the local community for their support.

Image copyright VALERY HACHE
Image caption It is understood Mr Rodgers fell from a promenade onto a rocky beach in Nice

Supt Goddard said: "I was informed this morning by my French counterparts of this tragic news

"I believe it was an accident."

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Media captionNI manager Michael O'Neill was informed of the death of the NI supporter on Monday morning

'Truly heartbreaking'

Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers, Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness, issued a joint statement.

"It was with great shock and sadness we learned this morning of the death of Darren Rodgers in Nice last night as the result of a tragic accident," they said.

Image copyright VALERY HACHE
Image caption Police at the scene of the accident, that happened in the early hours of Monday

"The loss of a young life in these circumstances is truly heartbreaking and our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family at this extremely difficult time.

"This sad news is in stark contrast to the jovial carnival atmosphere just hours before at the game against Poland."

Image copyright Steven Davis Twitter
Image copyright Gareth McAuley
Image copyright Kyle Lafferty

DUP North Antrim MLA Paul Frew said he had spoken to Mr Rodgers on Sunday.

He described him as a "great lad with a big heart".

"Darren played for Braid Utd. Would have ran through a brick wall for his mates. Whole team is in shock, simply can't believe it," Mr Frew tweeted.

Patrick Nelson, the chief executive, of the IFA said: "On behalf of the board, management, players and staff of the Irish Football Association, I would like to express my deep sadness at the tragic death of a Northern Ireland supporter in Nice in the early hours of this morning.

"The thoughts of everyone at the association are with his family and friends at this time."

Gary McAllister of the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs said: "I'm sure that every Northern Ireland fan, both here in France and at home, will be thinking of Darren and his loved ones at this very sad time."

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