How French Resistance footballer murdered by the Nazis became an icon for grassroots fans

By

During World War II a young man called Rino Della Negra played for the prestigious Red Star football club from Saint-Ouen in the northern suburbs of Paris. But as well as playing top-level football he was also secretly a member of a French Resistance group. Della Negra was executed on February 21st 1944 by the Nazis at the age of just 20, but later became an icon of the club's grassroots fans. Now two historians have charted the life of this young working class footballer. As Mickaël Correia reports, Della Negra was also the the son of Italian immigrants and his story makes a mockery of the hazy notion of “national identity” so beloved by the far-right today.

Reading articles is for subscribers only. Subscribe now.

One of the stands at the Red Star Football Club at Saint-Ouen in the northern suburbs of Paris bears the name of Rino Della Negra. And during matches at this legendary club – the fourth oldest in France and whose heyday was in the inter-war years – there are regularly songs and banners in 'Rino's' honour.