The family of tragic Irish football fan James Nolan are to accept a special award on behalf of the Ireland supporters who illuminated the European Championships.
European football’s governing body UEFA have announced that the Irish fans will receive a special award for their behaviour at the tournament.
Over 30,000 supporters travelled with Giovanni Trapattoni’s team to the finals and won Polish hearts with their exemplary behaviour and endless singing.
UEFA have decided to recognise that support, despite Ireland’s woeful performances on the pitch, with this award which will be dedicated to 21-year-old fan Nolan.
He died in the town of Bydgoszcz during the tournament when it is believed he fell into a river and drowned.
Now his family are to accept the UEFA award from the association’s president Michel Platini when he visits Dublin in the near future.
James’ father Jimmy said: ”I am deeply touched by this. It is a great honour and I would like to thank the amazing support that we have received at this difficult time from supporters in Ireland every part of the world.”
The Nolan family buried their son last week when his funeral was attended by Irish goalkeeper Shay Given and Claudine Keane, wife of Ireland captain Robbie.
The FAI were also represented at the funeral and made it clear to UEFA that they wanted this award to be presented to the Nolan family.
“Irish supporters deserve this award for their incredible commitment, behaviour and friendliness during the tournament,” said FAI chief executive John Delaney in a statement.
“They did the country proud and added something really special to the championships.
“I thank UEFA for their recognition and I am glad that the award will be accepted by James Nolan’s parents whose tragic loss left all Irish fans deeply saddened after the tournament.”
FAI President Paddy McCaul said: “The Irish fans were a credit to the country and won praise everywhere they went in Poland, striking up a great relationship with everyone they met.
“I am glad that the award will be dedicated to James Nolan whose passing has touched us all.”
Happy Earth Day! Ireland sure looks gorgeous from outer space