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Rovers’ Sean Kavanagh, Gary O’Neill, Jack Byrne and Andy Lyons after the game. Kostadin Andonov/INPHO

'I should be on a flight home tonight': Shamrock Rovers fan released from Bulgarian jail

Daniel Fulham was detained after Rovers’ match on Tuesday.

LAST UPDATE | 21 Jul 2022

AN IRISH FOOTBALL fan has been released from a Bulgarian jail after border police  arrested him when they didn’t believe his passport photo was him.

Daniel Fulham had travelled with a group of Shamrock Rovers fans to watch the Hoops play a Champions League qualifier against Ludogorets in the Bulgarian city of Razgrad. Rovers lost the game 3-0. 

It emerged this afternoon that the fan has now been released from custody and plans are being made to return him to Dublin. 

Tweeting about his ordeal, Daniel wrote: “Really appreciate all the concerns and incredible work from everyone involved to help me get home. I should be on a flight home to Dublin tonight.”

The group had flown into Romania and then got a bus from Bucharest to Razgrad – around 140km away.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney this afternoon said his department and respective embassies had been working hard to resolve the situation.

Ray Whelan was one of the men on the bus with fans over there. 

Speaking to The Journal, Ray said there were no issues at all crossing into Bulgaria but it was the return journey that caused the hassle. 

He said: “We were all a group going over. We had 20 of us or thereabouts going to the game from Bucharest so we got a minibus. We had to go through Romania into Bulgaria – getting into Bulgaria was no problem. 

“We went to the match and then were getting the bus back across the border. The border guard got on and took everyone’s passports, which is sometimes what happens on trips like these. 

“Then they called Dan off. We thought they just designated him as the fella they were going to give all the passports back to but then we realised there was an issue.”

It emerged that the Bulgarian border police didn’t believe Dan was the man in his own passport. 

Ray explained that they were “pinning his ears back in front of him trying to distort his face to make him look like the photo in his passport”.

Ray said the bus was stopped for two hours and Dan was finally told he was to be arrested and detained as they believed he was not travelling on a legitimate passport. 

Dan’s plight has also seemingly caught the eye of Irish footballing royalty, according to Irish Football Fan TV. The account claims to have gotten in touch with Robbie Keane.

TDs have been calling for the Government to get involved. 

Speaking on RTE’s News At One, Daniel’s mother Noeleen said her son had been subjected to a “terrifying” ordeal. 

“He travels all the time on that passport. He goes to all the matches the European and he got into Malta with it last week. 

“The photograph didn’t match, or it was slightly different, is because he had surgery on his jaw. His face was slightly swollen when he took that photograph and that’s why he looked different. Hopefully now we’ll have him home soon.”

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