News of dead ringer’s demise greatly exaggerated by Ballybrack

Dublin club’s spectacular own goal tops some serious competition worldwide

So, all those minutes of silence, expressions of grief and offers of condolences were for nothing.

“Basically,” Fernando Nuno LaFuente told Seán O’Rourke on Wednesday morning, “I’m not dead.”

But, he suggested, he was almost dying from the laughing on browsing the front pages of the day’s papers.

The Daily Mirror had gone with 'Ballybrack From The Dead', the Irish Daily Mail opting for 'Alive and Kicking!'. The Examiner chose 'Player Back From Dead After Grave Mistake', with the Irish Daily Star going for 'Guess Who's Brack?'. The top prize, though, must surely go to The Irish Sun for the very splendid 'One Footie in the Grave'.


“My work started sending me all these articles,” said LaFuente, “that’s how I found out I was dead.”

This called to mind Joe Duffy’s chat with Stephen Ireland’s granny all those years ago.

Joe: “When did you discover you were dead, Patricia?”

Patricia Tallon: "When I saw the paper, Joe. It isn't everyone alive can see their death in the paper. I got an awful shock . . . but thank God I'm alive."

The lengths to which Ballybrack had gone to get their fixture against Arklow Town called off, informing Leinster Senior League officials that the Spaniard had died in a car crash, had led some to conclude that the Wicklow side must be as formidable as, say, the Brazil of 1970.

But LaFuente reckoned Ballybrack just weren’t able to field a team, his services unavailable not because he’s deceased, because he had moved to Galway for work.

The story has made international headlines, CNN even picking up on it. But people in glasshouses and all that.

2014: ‘BREAKING: Brazilian former soccer player Pele dies at 74.’

Five minutes later: ‘Pele representative tells CNN he is alive and very well.’

While the Ballybrack story is, well, somewhat different in that the announcement of a passing was on the deliberate side, the footballing world has suffered from many an exaggerated reporting of deaths.

Bus driver

Only last year, for example, several news outlets picked up on a fake story about Tony Yeboah’s demise, when the former Ghana striker was, in fact, hale and hearty.

“Yeboah has vehemently denied the rumour of his death,” Ghana’s Savannah News announced, when you wouldn’t have thought there was any need for the ‘vehemently’, the fact that the fella had actually spoken to them should have been enough.

One of the better football-related ones occurred back in 2015 when Romanian club FC Farul Constanta mourned the death of its bus driver of 25 years, Jean Podaru.

"Former Constanta player Paul Peniu paid an, eh, moving tribute.

“Jean was regarded as a big baby, sometimes dominated by negativism. Extraordinarily cranky. Morose. He would get angry for little things. He was grumpy, grey, always something was not right.”

It was before their game that day that the stadium announcer told the crowd of Podaru’s death. A tearful minute’s silence was held and the teams wore black armbands . At half-time there was another announcement.

“Good news – Jean Podaru is not dead!”

And he had it on good authority too, the news came from Podaru himself, the fella probably then busy hunting down Peniu for that moving elegy.

But nothing tops the non-death of Fernando Nuno LaFuente. He even has a tune dedicated to him now, courtesy of Today FM's Dermot and Dave. All together now:

“Did you hear the news Fernando?

Were you surprised to hear you died on Thursday of last week?

We didn’t feel like playing Arklow,

So we told the Leinster League

That you had left us tragically….”.


“You’re the Lazarus of Ballybrack,

we’re so glad you’re back,


But as the London Times' Aaron Rogan tweeted, "hope the League go easy on Ballybrack FC – it's not like anyone died."