The heartbroken father of drowned Irish football fan James Nolan has thanked the friends who stayed on in Poland to help locate his son’s body.

The 21-year-old’s body was found in the local river in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz on Wednesday, four days after he became separated from his friends on a night out.

Pals Adam Cullen, Aaron Eustace, Stephen and Aidan Willoughby, Niall Eustace and Eoin Burke helped local police in the desperate search for the young student before divers located his body.

“James’s dad Jimmy told us that at least now his son is coming home,” pal Aaron Eustace told the Irish Sun.

He added: “Jammer was just the happiest man, witty, always the centre of attention. He was loving it over here, making up loads of songs.

“Everyone loved Jammer. We will be OK because we have each other.”

Blessington footballer James went missing on Sunday night as the pals prepared to return to Poznan for Ireland’s game with Italy on Monday evening.

Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni and legendary footballer Paul McGrath were among a number of people who issued pleas for information regarding his whereabouts.

Pal Aaron revealed how the friends studied James’ last movements with local detectives. He said:

“We were going through CCTV footage with the police and could see him James.

“He left on his own accord . . totally in the wrong direction.”

Aaron added: “On Sunday when we woke up he wasn’t there so we went straight to the square, got on to the tourist information girl who told us where the police station was.”

Adam Cullen told the Irish Sun that spoke to James’s father Jimmy on the phone when the body was found.

“He said, ‘at least James is coming home to us’. He thanked us because we said we would find him,” said Cullen.

“We did everything we could. Printed up 500 flyers and posted them all over the town."

“They were relaying the information in the square by Tuesday, on the big screen, and it was announced in the stadium on Monday night.

“Polish police have been brilliant, everybody has been amazing.”

Aaron continued: “What can you feel? We are devastated, distraught, in and out of shock and sometimes just don’t realise it’s happening.”

James’s uncle Noel Nolan said: “This news is some form of small relief  - the only thing that could have been worse is if he’d never been found.”