Soccer football is quite far from being a dangerous sport, especially when compared to motorcycle racing, surfing, rafting and other extreme activities people decide to take on for the thrill of it. However, there’s always a risk of someone suffering a life-threatening injury during an episode of the beautiful game. Believe it or not, footballers are just as human as the rest of us. Sure they can do some of the most incredible things, but they eat, sleep and get sick just like we do.
Sadly, they die as well. While most professional footballers have the luxury of seeing out their careers and dying years after leaving the game, some aren’t that lucky. In fact, there have been several cases of players dying right there on the pitch or as a result of an injury suffered while playing. Skyblazon has rounded up these list to show you 7 Soccer Players Who Died On The Pitch.
7. Cheick Ismaël Tioté – 7 Soccer Players Who Died On The Pitch
Cheick Ismaël Tioté was an Ivorian footballer who played as a defensive midfielder. He signed for Newcastle United in England for a fee of £3.5 million. Tioté totalled 156 games for Newcastle over six-and-a-half seasons, scoring one goal. In February 2017, he joined Beijing Enterprises of the China League One.
Tioté played 52 times for the Ivory Coast national football soccer team from 2009 to 2015, scoring once. He represented the country at two FIFA World Cups and four Africa Cup of Nations, winning the 2015 edition of the latter. Ivorian defensive midfielder; collapsed and lost consciousness during a training session and was pronounced dead later that day with a suspected death cause of a heart attack. He died on June 5, 2017.
6. DEAN RICHARDS – 7 Soccer Players Who Died On The Pitch
Dean Ivor Richards was an English soccer who played as a defender. He began his career at hometown club Bradford City before a four-year stay with Wolverhampton Wanderers. He left to play Premier League football with Southampton and finally Tottenham Hotspur. He also made four appearances for England under-21s.
Richards died at the age of 36 on the morning of 26 February 2011 at St. Gemma’s Hospice, Leeds after a long-term illness. On 6 March 2011 two of his former clubs, Wolves and Tottenham, met in the Premier League. This fixture was designated as a tribute game, and as such featured several official and media tributes to Richards’ career and life. Joining the teams in the centre circle at Molineux Stadium for a minute’s applause before kick-off were his widow Samantha and his two sons Rio and Jaden
5. ANTONIO PUERTA
Antonio José Puerta was a Spanish soccer player who played solely for Sevilla. Mainly a left midfielder who could also operate as an attacking left back. On 25 August 2007, Puerta collapsed and lost consciousness in the penalty area due to a cardiac arrest during Sevilla’s first La Liga match of the 2007–08 campaign at homeground Sánchez Pizjuán against Getafe CF. He was seen crouching and then subsequently collapsing upon moving back to his team’s goal after only 35 minutes of the game had passed, as teammates Ivica Dragutinović and Andrés Palop immediately ran to his side as he lost consciousness; moments later, club medical staff and other players followed suit.
After recovering and being substituted, Puerta was able to walk to the dressing room, where he collapsed once again. He was resuscitated by the doctors and taken, by ambulance, to the intensive care unit of Virgen del Rocío hospital, where he received cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Puerta died on 28 August 2007, at 14:30. Doctor Francisco Murillo reported that he had suffered multiple organ failure and irreversible brain damage as a result of multiple prolonged cardiac arrests due to an incurable, hereditary heart disease known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia.
4. DAVID ONIYA – 7 Soccer Players Who Died On The Pitch
David Faramola Oniya was a Nigerian soccer player who played for Malaysia Premier League club T-Team as a defender. In mid-2007, Oniya moved to Uzbekistan, signing a contract with Dinamo Samarqand. Oniya played for Dinamo Samarqand for 4 seasons, becoming the team’s captain before signing for Bunyodkor in December 2011. Oniya left Bunyodkor in February 2012 before the start of the season, signing for Sogdiana Jizzakh for the first half of the year and then joined Buxoro in the summer of 2012.
On 13 June 2015, Oniya died after collapsing on the pitch in Malaysia during a friendly match between his club T-Team and Kelantan. His body was laid to rest at a Christian cemetery in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan two weeks later.
3. DANIEL JARQUE
Daniel Jarque González was a Spanish soccer player who played as a central defender. He played his entire career with Espanyol, and was named team captain one month before his death. Daniel ‘Dani’ Jarque spent his entire senior career at La Liga club Espanyol, having joined them in 2001. Playing as defender, Jarque was named the side’s captain just one month prior to his untimely death in 2009.
The player, who was 26 years old at the time, fell ill and passed out at the team’s training base in Coverciano during Espanyol’s pre-season tour in Italy.
Despite the medical team’s best efforts to revive him, Jarque passed away just one day before the Spanish side were due to play Bologna. The news hit all of Spain quite hard and Barcelona star Andres Iniesta was left traumatized for almost a year after Jarque’s passing. According to several online Spanish newspapers, Jarque was found dead during Espanyol’s pre-season, in Coverciano, Florence, Italy. On 8 August 2009 he was on the phone with his girlfriend in the team hotel when he suffered a heart attack. Some other news sources say that Jarque’s girlfriend, who was seven months into her pregnancy, reported his absence to his roommate Ferran Corominas.
2. MIKLOS FEHER
Miklós “Miki” Fehér was a Hungarian professional soccer player who played as a striker. He spent most of his nine-year career in Portugal, representing four clubs and amassing Primeira Liga totals of 80 games and 27 goals. He represented Hungary at international level.
On 25 January 2004, Fehér was in Guimarães with Benfica to play against Vitória de Guimarães. The game was being broadcast live on television, and Benfica were leading 1–0. Fehér had just come on as a substitute and assisted another player just off the bench, Fernando Aguiar, for the match’s only goal, but received a yellow card in injury time and suddenly bent forward, seemingly in pain; he then fell backwards to the ground.
Members of both teams rushed immediately to aid Fehér before medical personnel arrived on the pitch. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed, an ambulance arrived on the pitch and he was rushed to the hospital. His condition was covered by the Portuguese media throughout the day and, before midnight, his death was confirmed, the cause of death being cardiac arrhythmia brought on by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In his memory Benfica retired the number 29 shirt, which he wore during his time at the club; he was remembered by many and his death caused a profound shock in Portuguese sports.
1. JUNIOR MALANDA
Bernard Malanda-Adje nicknamed Junior Malanda, was a Belgian professional soccer player who last played for German club VfL Wolfsburg as a defensive midfielder. He was a youth team player at Brussels, Anderlecht and Lille, going on to play in the reserve team of the latter. In 2012, he joined Zulte Waregem, and was a regular player as they finished runners-up of the 2012–13 Belgian Pro League. After that he was signed by Wolfsburg of the Bundesliga on a five-year contract, loaning him back for the first season before recalling him. He also represented Belgium up to under-21 level.
On 10 January 2015, at 15:25 local time (CET), Malanda was travelling in the backseat of a Volkswagen Touareg on the A2 near Porta Westfalica in northern Germany, to catch a flight to a training camp in South Africa. Apparently without outside influence, the car cleared a guardrail on the side of the road and crashed into a tree. Malanda was catapulted from the back seat of the car. The police confirmed Malanda was not wearing his seat-belt at the time of the crash, resulting in him being thrown forward at the collision and being killed instantly.
According to the police report, the crash was caused due to inappropriate speed for the very rainy weather, and an investigation into possible manslaughter was opened. His agent Peter Smeets stated Malanda’s car was caught speeding 21 times in the last 6 months, of which it was faster than 200 km/h in ten instances. He reported that Malanda was almost never driving the car himself. Malanda’s funeral was held on 20 January at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Brussels. It drew over 1,000 mourners, among them Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking and Sporting Director Klaus Allofs as well as Marc Wilmots, manager of the Belgium national football team.