6 African Footballers Who Died on the Pitch: Football Tragedies No One Expected

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Professional athletes exercise daily and are always in the best shape. It’s almost inconceivable that this could put them in danger of heart attacks or cardiac arrest. You can’t imagine having African footballers who died on the pitch. That said, their bodies deal with high-intensity speeds that can be fatal if anything goes wrong. 

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Some footballers have collapsed but fortunately regained consciousness, while others have lost their lives. In this article, we’ll list some African footballers who died on the pitch.

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Ben Idrissa Derme

Ben Idrissa Derme collapsed and died playing for Corsican club AJ Biguglia in a French cup game. Medical staff tried to resuscitate him, but their attempts failed. He played for: 

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Cheick Tiote

Cheick Tiote features in our list of African footballers who died on the pitch. Tiote collapsed while training with his club, Beijing Enterprise Group and died in June 2017. 

He was born in Yaounde Cameroon and started playing football on the streets before he was scouted by Belgium side Anderlecht. The late Tiote played for Twente, Newcastle United and Chinese club Beijing Enterprise. He represented Cameroon 55 times.

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Marc-Vivien Foe

One of the finest players of his generation, Marc-Vivien Foe, also lost his life on the pitch. He was representing Cameroon at the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup in France. Foe played in his country’s first two games against Turkey and Brazil. He was back in the lineup against Colombia. 

The midfielder collapsed in the 72nd minute. Attempts to resuscitate him proved futile. Foe was rushed to a medical center, where he was pronounced dead. A second autopsy report showed he died from a heart condition exacerbated by physical exhaustion.

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Michael Umanika

Umanika is another African footballer who died on the pitch. He was only 20 years old. The former Nigerian footballer fell on the pitch while training with Azerbaijani team Zagatala PFK. He was suspected to have died from a heart attack.

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Samuel Okwaraji

Samuel Okwaraji is another African footballer who died on the pitch. On his eighth appearance for the Super Eagles, he collapsed during a 1990 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Angola. An autopsy report showed he suffered from a heart complication called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, similar to Marc-Vivien Foe. 

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Patrick Ekeng

In 2016, Patrick Ekeng was a second-half substitute during Dinamo Bucuresti’s game. Seven minutes into his appearances, he fell on the pitch and was taken to hospital but shortly after was declared dead. 

Reports indicate that he’d told a friend he was tired and didn’t want to play that weekend. Ekeng was 26 years old and had played only two games for Cameroon.

These are the African footballers who died on the pitch. Although the cases are rare and football has improved how it deals with unforeseen situations on the pitch, it’s always a sad moment.

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