'That's how I found out I was dead': Ballybrack player on his reported demise

'That's how I found out I was dead': Ballybrack player on his reported demise

The footballer who was falsely reported to have died has described how he heard about his death, saying he finds the incident funny "because basically, I'm not dead".

Ballybrack FC falsely reported that Fernando Nuno La Fuente had been killed in a traffic accident last Thursday.

The side’s game against Arklow Town on Saturday was postponed, while other teams in the league held a minute’s silence in honour of the player.

The player, who is living and working for a software company in Galway, appeared on Today with Sean O'Rourke saying he was aware there might be a story but didn't think it would be so severe.

"I was aware there was going to be some story on me but I thought it was going to be me breaking a leg," said La Fuente, who had not been in any accident nor suffered any injury.

"Work called me to say you're a celebrity, they sent all these of news articles, and that's how I found out I was dead."

La Fuente said he was taking out of a club WhatsApp group on Saturday so he knew something might happen but when he heard the news he wrote to the club and they apologised.

"It's serious on their part, but I find it a bit funny, because basically, I'm not dead. And no one has actually been harmed here."

He added that his wife was aware of what was happening but he "had to call my mom straight away because she didn't know anything of what was going on."

La Fuente said he last played for Ballybrack last September but moved to Galway having been offered a relocation with his job.

He stated that he would not have minded if the club had used the excuse of him breaking his leg to get out of the fixture.

"I didn't care. I'm not there anymore and if I'm not getting in any kind of trouble, why should I care? It's okay."

When asked how the story came about and if Ballybrack were afraid of playing Arklow, La Fuente said he didn't think so but said the club found it hard to get players to fill the fixture: "These guys aren't professional."

La Fuente added that he really enjoyed his time with the clubs saying "there was a really good vibe".

When asked by O'Rourke if he plans on returning to football, La Fuente said he hopes to find a new club in Galway in the New Year.

Ballybrack FC has since apologised for what they called a “gross error of judgment”.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the club said: "It has come to the attention of both the club, senior players and the management team that a gross error of judgment has occurred emanating from correspondence sent from a member of the senior set up management team to the Leinster Senior League.

This grave and unacceptable mistake was completely out of character and was made by a person who has been experiencing severe personal difficulties unbeknownst to any other members of the club.

At this stage we can only offer our sincere apologies to the Leinster Senior League, our opponents Arklow Town FC and the host of clubs and football people who made contact with us or offered messages of support in recent days.

This morning, the Leinster Senior League issued a statement saying it "will not be making any further public statements regarding the issue with Ballybrack FC."

"The League has been in regular contact with the club and has been offering support to the individuals who made the error regarding a recent fixture.

"The League would like to thank the many players, teams, officials, and volunteers who reached out regarding the well-being of a Ballybrack player, but would kindly ask that privacy is now afforded to both the League and club to deal with the ongoing matter."

La Fuente's employers, Glofox, have also issued a statement on his behalf.

Fernando LaFuente moved from Spain to Ireland in 2017 to join our Engineering team in Dublin. In September this year, Fernando relocated to the west of Ireland to lead and help grow the mobile app development team in our new Galway office.

Fernando is still employed by Glofox and still living in Galway.

Fernando was completely unaware of the false statement made in relation to his association with Ballybrack Football Club. He only learned of the false statement over the past few days through social media.

It has been an extremely anxious time for Fernando as he tries to speak to family members and friends before they hear the news through social and other media.

We ask that all media respect Fernando’s privacy at this time as he has not asked for any of this attention and would like to get back to some sense of normality over the next few days.

- additional reporting by PA

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