CARSON, Calif. – Ireland’s participation in Euro 2012 was supposed to have been a festive time, even if the Irish team itself was not very successful.
It never should have brought the Republic heartache.
The ROI’s Euro trip was marked by tragedy, as native son James Nolan drowned in a canal in northern Poland last week.
LA Galaxy striker and Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane paid tribute to his fallen countryman after scoring in a 3-0 win over Vancouver Saturday night. Keane put a ball into the back of the net and ran back towards the bench. Instead of performing his usual cartwheel and somersault, Keane was handed a Galaxy jersey, unfurled it and displayed the back of it and displayed the words "RIP James Nolan."
“It was just a gesture because the Irish people are very close and they stick with each other through good times and bad times,” Keane said. “He was a big, big soccer fan and it was a shame, so it was just a show of respect really.”
It was not the first thing he did to help show his support for the Nolan family. Earlier in the day, Keane talked to James’ father Jimmy via phone and offered his support.
“I called his father today to send my condolences and to say that my thoughts were with him and the family,” Keane said.
As for where the jersey may end up, somewhere in Nolan’s hometown of Blessington, County Wicklow, may be its final destination.
“I’ll maybe sign it,” Keane said, “and give it to his father, if his father wants it. We’ll see.”
The 21-year-old had traveled to Poland to watch Ireland participate in their first European Championship since 1988. A week ago, Nolan went missing in Bydgoszcz. His body was found on Wednesday and local authorities did not suspect foul play in the death.