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5 African players who died while playing football

Former Black Stars player Raphael Dwamena will be buried in Accra today, February 16. The player who died tragically in a football match last year will be laid in state at the Adjiringano Astro Turf in Accra, with a subsequent private burial.

African players who died while playing

Dwamena's untimely demise occurred in November 2023 during a match between KF Egnatia and KF Partizani in the Albanian top flight. Collapsing in the 23rd minute of the game, he was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead.

Here, we highlight five African footballers who tragically passed away while playing the game they loved.

This list is not exhaustive but reflects some of the incidents that have deeply impacted the football community across Africa and the world.

1. Marc-Vivien Foé (Cameroon)

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Date of Death: June 26, 2003

Circumstance: Collapsed on the field during a FIFA Confederations Cup match against Colombia, held in Lyon, France. The cause of death was later identified as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary condition that affects the heart muscle.

Impact: Foé's death led to increased medical screenings in football, with many clubs and national teams implementing more rigorous heart checks for their players.

2. Endurance Idahor (Nigeria)

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Date of Death: March 6, 2010

Circumstance: Idahor tragically collapsed on the pitch while playing for his Sudanese club, Al-Merreikh, in a Sudanese Premier League match. Attempts to revive him on the field were unsuccessful, and his death was pronounced upon arrival at the hospital.

Impact: Idahor's death raised concerns about medical facilities and emergency response protocols at football stadiums in Africa.

3. Patrick Ekeng (Cameroon)

Date of Death: May 6, 2016

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Circumstance: Ekeng collapsed on the field after coming on as a substitute for Dinamo Bucharest in a Romanian Liga I match. Despite efforts to resuscitate him, Ekeng passed away in the hospital, with the cause of death being a heart attack.

Impact: His death prompted reviews of medical preparedness and emergency medical services at sports events, especially in Romania.

4. Cheick Tioté (Ivory Coast)

Date of Death: June 5, 2017

Circumstance: Tioté died after collapsing during a training session with his club, Beijing Enterprises, in China. The cause of death was reported as a heart attack.

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Impact: Tioté's passing led to calls for better health monitoring for footballers, highlighting the need for regular and comprehensive medical evaluations.

5. Chinonso Ihelwere Henry (Nigeria)

Date of Death: August 5, 2012

Circumstance: Ihelwere Henry collapsed without any physical contact from another player during a match in Romania, playing for Tulcea. Despite attempts to revive him on the pitch, he was pronounced dead.

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Impact: Henry's death added to the growing concerns over the health and safety of football players, emphasizing the importance of early detection of heart conditions.

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