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The tragic tales of footballers who died prematurely on or off the pitch

As much as we all love football, it’s a sport that has taken the lives of several players too soon. Fortunately, this is rare, but sadly, it has happened many times in the past. Some players have actually died on the pitch in tragic circumstances. In contrast, others have died away from the field in equally awful conditions. Within the information below, we would like to pay tribute to talented players who were taken too soon. 

Famous footballers who passed too soon

As sad as it is to talk about, these guys deserve to be remembered for their footballing contributions in life. Not only were they all amazing on the field, but many of them led admirable lives away from the pitch too. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Andres Escobar

This is one of the most tragic of them all. Andres Escobar played as a defender for Columbia through the late 80s to the mid-90s. He was a talented player, but during a World Cup in 1994, he managed to score his own goal. This led to Columbia ultimately losing the game and being eliminated from the competition. Of course, we all know that this happens, and it’s just part of the game. However, upon returning to Columbia, specifically to Medellin, he got into an altercation with some football fans.

He had reportedly been at a bar with friends before heading home at around 3 am. He was confronted by several people regarding his own goal at the tournament. During the argument, he was shot repeatedly and left to bleed out. It was one of the darkest days in football history, and even to this day, the reasons for the murder are unclear. Some think that it was due to a series of unruly characters losing a lot of money on the game.

But regardless, his death was horrific, and he died far too young.

Marc Vivien-Foe

Vivien-Foe was a professional player for Cameroon. During a 2003 game against Columbia, he collapsed on the pitch in the 72nd minute. Fans and players looked on in despair as medics rushed to his aid and took him away from the field. According to official reports, medics tried to revive Vivien-Foe for around 45 minutes. They gave him oxygen, as well as mouth to mouth treatment, but both were done in vain. In a desperate attempt to keep Vivien-Foe with them, he was rushed to a nearby hospital, but he didn’t recover.

It was later confirmed that he was suffering from an abnormal heart condition. Nobody knew about this, Vivien-Foe included, but it ultimately led to his death on that fateful day. He was loved by fans, managers, players, and friends and family – definitely a great man who died before his time.

Antonio Puerta

Antonio Puerta’s death on the field was awful, and it’s one of the most famous on-pitch deaths of them all. This one occurred back in 2007, during a match involving Sevilla and Getafe FC. Puerta experienced cardiac arrest on the field and was seen collapsing in the penalty area. Realizing something serious was wrong, players and medics rushed to his aid. He was successfully brought back to consciousness, and in fact, he walked to the dressing room himself. However, he collapsed once more in the changing rooms and things took a turn for the worse.

In the local hospital shortly afterwards Puerta was announced dead, at just 22 years of age. He was a true fan-favourite, and he is sorely missed to this day.

Diego Maradona

Maradona is a man that needs no introduction. He is a true legend of the sport, in more ways than one. Many regard Maradona as one of the most talented players to have ever lived, and it’s hard to dispute this. Of course, while he was magnificent on the pitch, he was rather infamous for his behaviours off the pitch. According to well-documented reports, Maradona struggled with living life in the fast lane, shall we say? He was a prolific drug user, a heavy drinker, and he most certainly burned the candle at both ends during his time.

This all had a major impact on his career, and indeed, his personal life. However, despite all of this, it seemed that Maradona had cleaned up his act over the last few years. But this impression may have been misguided, as he was taken to hospital with serious health complications in November 2020. He died of cardiac arrest later that month, at aged 60 – well before his time in our opinion.


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