News Article

10 players who bid us farewell on the pitch

Written by: Sourav Neogi

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After the sad passing of former Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote while at training in China we take a look at 10 players who unfortunately met the same fate...

We love the game and we love the players who play it, don’t we? Football, the beautiful game started as an everyday routine when we were younger but has consumed us to the deepest core of our heart now that we have grown up to be football freaks. We are atheists who believe in a temple with a training ground, gods playing in front of a large crowd and blessings in the form of trophies and titles. How could our heart not cry out loud when we hear about one of our own passing away, that too while playing this beautiful game?

Cheick Tiote might have perished in his physical form, but will always be in our hearts for his time at Newcastle United and especially the stunner against Arsenal! Here are 10 footballers who lost their lives while playing the game on a field.

10. Tommy Blackstock (Manchester United)

Manchester United might just be the club with the longest line of tragedies in Europe’s top five leagues. The first of such incidents occured on 8th April 1907, when a defender called Tommy Blackstock sustained a head injury while heading the ball and collapsed on the pitch. The game was against St. Helen Recreation Club in Clayton and was just 10 minutes in when the incident happened. The defender was carried off of the pitch to the dressing room but the injury deteriorated and he died soon after.

The Manchester Evening Courier reported that Blackstock had died of ‘natural causes’ after the city’s coroner had submitted his postmortem report.

9. Bob Benson (Arsenal)

One of the few big guns of the early 20th century, Woolwich Arsenal signed talented full-back Bob Benson in April 1913. However, Benson’s time at Highbury was short-lived as the defender lost his life while playing in a London Combination match at Highbury against Reading on 19 February 1916.

Due to the raging First World War, first class football in England was suspended in 1915 which led Benson to work in a munitions factory. Despite being unfit for the match, Benson volunteered to replace his friend Joe Shaw in the match against Reading and collapsed during the second half of the match. He was rushed off to the dressing room where he died in the arms of team trainer George Hardy.

It was later revealed that Benson had died of a burst blood vessel from a long-standing medical condition.

8. Pavao (FC Porto)

Fernando Pascoal Neves, popularly known as Pavao among his friends, families and fans was a midfielder for Portuguese giants FC Porto. Pavao was subject to a heartbreaking incident in the club’s history when he died of a heart attack during a league match against Setubal on 16th December 1973.

Born in Chivas, Pavao spent his youth career at FC Porto’s academy before joining the senior team in 1965. He went on to make 179 appearances for the Blue and Whites, scoring 16 goals before his death.

7. Samuel Okwaraji (Nigeria)

Death grabbed Nigeria’s prized possession Samuel Okwaraji, in the first of such incidents in international football. The midfielder, who was playing for the Green Eagles in a FIFA World Cup 1990 qualifying match against Angola, collapsed in the 80th minute at the National Stadium in Lagos. Later, the doctors said that the talented midfielder had died of congested heart failure which was likely caused by the hot weather conditions on August 12, 1989. The midfielder was only 25 years old when he died.

6. Serhiy Perkhun (CSKA Moscow)

Perkhun was a Ukrainian goalkeeper, playing for Russian giants CSKA Moscow when he died of brain haemorrhage after a collision with Anzhi Makhachkala striker Budun Budunov.

Former experts suggest that Perkhun was slowly growing into becoming the finest goalkeeper in the world, but tragedy struck

The 23-year old goalkeeper, sensing a threat in Budunov just out of the penalty box went to challenge for the ball in the air and head it out of the zone. Just after clearing the threat with a header, he clashed heads with Budunov and both of them lost consciousness and were rushed to the hospital. He was later discharged with stitches on his head and two injections two hours later but was again rushed to the hospital after falling unconscious on the team bus on the way to the airport. Perkhun went into a state of clinical death seven minutes before the doctors resuscitated him, which resulted in a nine-day long comatose. He died on 19th August 2001.

The CSKA Moscow team played the rest of the season with black armbands and the No. 16 was retired by the club.

5. Miklos Feher (Benfica)

Feher lost his life while playing against Vitoria by a cardiac arrest caused by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy on 25th January 2004.

A talented striker, Feher was a substitute in a match against Vitoria in Guimaraes. The match was broadcast live on television when the Hungarian fell on the pitch in injury-time. He was rushed to a hospital after being performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The news of his death was later revealed just before midnight.

After the death of Feher, the club retired the no. 29 shirt, which he wore during his time at the club. Jose Mourinho, the then manager of FC Porto paid his respects at Estadio Da Luz, where the striker’s body was kept before being sent to his home country, Hungary.

4. Cristiano Junior (Dempo Sports Club)

Dempo Sports Club, as well as Indian football fans, were left in a shock on 5th December 2004 when Dempo’s talismanic forward died after a collision with Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Subrata Paul in the Federation Cup Final in Bengaluru.

Cristiano was equally loved in both Kolkata and Goa, Indian football's hotbeds, for his friendly demeanour and goal-scoring heroics

The forward rushed on to receive an aerial ball just outside of the penalty box in the 78th minute. Mohun Bagan shot-stopper Subrata Paul sensed a threat and came out with intentions of fisting the ball out to clear the threat, he did not hit the ball but accidentally connected with Junior’s chest. Junior staggered away in pain but collapsed moments after scoring his second goal of the match. He was later pronounced dead upon his arrival at Hosmat Hospital.

3. Antonio Puerta (Sevilla FC)

One of Sevilla's key players at the time, Puerta died on 28th August 2007 of arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, after three days of suffering a series of cardiac arrests in a La Liga game against Getafe.

On 25th August 2007, the midfielder featured in a match against Getafe when he collapsed and lost consciousness on the pitch after the 35th minute. Medical staff came in and helped him to regain consciousness. The Spanish midfielder was substituted but again collapsed and lost his consciousness while walking towards the dressing room. He was taken to the intensive care unit of Virgen Del Rocio Hospital where he died on 28th August 2007, at 02:30 pm in the afternoon.

2. Piermario Morosini (Livorno)

Morosini was an Italian midfielder on loan to Serie B side Livorno from Udinese. He died in a Serie B league match against Pescara OF a cardiac arrest in the 31st minute.

Just after he lost control of himself and collapsed, Morosini tried to get up but failed and was subject to medical attention on the field. After using a defibrillator on him, he was taken to Santo Spirito Hospital but died before reaching the hospital.

After his death, Livorno and his previous club on loan, Vicenza confirmed that they would retire the No. 25 shirt, which the midfielder wore during his time at the clubs.

1. Cheick Tiote (Beijing Enterprises)

Former Newcastle United midfielder, Cheick Tiote suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday while he was in a training session at Chinese second division side Beijing Enterprises. The Ivorian was later confirmed dead thus being the most recent addition to the list of players who lost their lives while playing the game.

Premier League stars such as Shay Given, Vincent Kompany, Siem de Jong as well as former players such as Gary Lineker, Steve Harper took to social media to pay their respects to the departed player The former Toon star was just 30 when he died.

 

Published: Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:34 PM IST

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