GLASGOW, Scotland, March 19 – The father of one of the Kilmarnock players who beat Celtic to win the Scottish League Cup died after watching his son’s trophy-winning effort at Hampden Park.
Kilmarnock midfielder Liam Kelly’s father Jack, 59, collapsed at the end of Sunday’s match and was taken to a Glasgow hospital where he later died.
Kelly, 22, was told about his father’s illness before Kilmarnock, whose upset 1-0 win denied Celtic a domestic treble, lifted the trophy but the rest of his team-mates had jubilantly collected their medals before they found out.
In the post-match press conference, Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels said: “The dressing room is very despondent and I don’t know why the man above sends down these messages to us.
“We are thinking more about Liam than our triumphalism.”
After the game, Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell said: “I’m very close to Liam so it just puts things into perspective for me.
“If I could take away my performance I would, if Liam’s dad was all right.”
Celtic manager Neil Lennon expressed his sadness by saying Monday: “All of the management team, players and backroom staff wish to offer our thoughts and prayers to Liam Kelly’s family.
“Myself and the entire team are shocked and saddened with this news and our heartfelt condolences go to Liam.”
Kilmarnock captain James Fowler told the Daily Record that any feelings of euphoria at ending the club’s 15-year-wait for a trophy had been overshadowed by the tragedy.
“I don’t think any of the boys can begin to imagine what Liam is going through at the moment,” he said. “It is desperately sad, particularly as it would have been one of the proudest days of Jack’s life.
“Given what happened it feels like we actually lost the cup final.”
Jack Kelly’s passing came on the same weekend that Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba collapsed during an FA Cup tie against Tottenham after suffering a cardiac arrest and was rushed to hospital, where on Monday he remained in a stable but critical condition.