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Monday 5 December 2016

'Stay happy and never stop smiling,' - friends pay tribute to Shetemi

Funeral

06/06/15 Belvedere Fc pay tribute to team mate,at the Funeral of Shetemi (Shay)Ayetigbo Rufai which took place at Donabate Portane Cummunity Centre in Dublin this afternoon... Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
06/06/15 Belvedere Fc pay tribute to team mate,at the Funeral of Shetemi (Shay)Ayetigbo Rufai which took place at Donabate Portane Cummunity Centre in Dublin this afternoon... Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Shetemi Ayetigbo

Tragic teenager Shetemi Ayetigbo died doing the thing he loved most, playing football, his memorial service heard at the weekend.

Hundreds attended the service for the 16-year-old Donabate player on Saturday, just six days after he died having collapsed during a match between his team, Belvedere FC, and St Kevin's FC in Santry.

Attempts to revive him at the scene failed and he was later pronounced dead at Beaumont Hospital.

Shetemi, who was affectionately known as Shay by his teammates, was voted his club's player of the year before his death.

The village of Donabate in north Dublin came to a standstill on Saturday afternoon as Shetemi's classmates, teammates and friends joined with his heartbroken mother Lola, father Zack and brothers Wale and Victor to say goodbye.

His aunt Abi Ajao told the hundreds packed into the Donabate Portrane Community Centre that the family could not believe how many people had turned out for his farewell.

Jovial

She shared the family's last moments with Shetemi, a jovial conversation with his uncles about their receding hairlines.

Her nephew was "never unhappy", she said, and had been "the life and soul of the family".

"From a young age Shetemi was such an emotionally intelligent child. He can pick up when somebody is down and that person needed that extra, 'come on I can help you out, it is going to be okay'," she said.

His brother Wale said he was mourning for the future that Shetemi could have had, playing football and raising a family.

"He was one of a kind, he stood on his own. He knew what he wanted to do and how to get it," he said.

Throughout the service, Shetemi's family, friends, teachers and coaches painted a picture of a young man who was fun-loving and kind, a natural leader with a gift for sports who had a bright future ahead of him.

Symbols of his life were presented to the family including his Number 8 jersey from Belvedere Football Club. Among the messages inscribed on the shirt was one declaring: "Once a Belvo boy, always a Belvo boy. We will never forget you. Keep on dancing and smiling."

A number of his teenage friends paid tribute to him during the service.

"No-one had a bad word to say about him," one pal, Cian, said. "He was always smiling and making people laugh, whether it was dancing, making jokes or just being himself. His personality was infectious. Shetemi died doing what he loved most, playing football."

Another friend, Darren, said Shetemi was "placed on this earth to change lives and that is what he did".

"I will never be able to describe how grateful I am to have spent so many special memories with a special man.

"The one thing he would want me to tell you is to 'stay happy, keep believing and never stop smiling'. Sleep tight brother. I love you and I will never forget you," he said.

Trophy

During the service Belvedere FC Under-16s manager Tommy Kenny presented the family with a player of the year trophy, an award that had been voted on prior to Shetemi's death. He was a "smashing, smashing kid", he told the congregation.

"Shay, you were the brightest star in a very bright group and you will live forever in our memories. Thanks for the joy that you brought into our lives. Have a safe journey. We will love you and miss you forever," he said.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe and senior representatives of the FAI were among the mourners.

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