Sevilla’s Spanish international defender Antonio Puerta died on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack during a Spanish league match on Saturday, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) told Agence France-Presse.
”It’s official. Puerta has died,” an RFEF spokesperson said.
The 22-year-old had been in ”very critical” condition in the intensive-care unit of Seville’s Virgen del Rocio Hospital, where he had been hooked up to a life-support machine, the hospital said earlier in a statement.
Puerta, a star in Seville’s successful Uefa Cup defence last season and the club’s top three league finish, collapsed after half an hour of Sevilla’s 4-1 win over Getafe on the opening day of the Spanish season.
He was able to walk gingerly to the dressing rooms where he collapsed a second time before being taken to hospital.
Puerta is not the first footballer to die of a heart attack.
In January 2004 Benfica’s Hungarian international striker Miklos Feher died during a Portuguese league match from a heart attack.
Seven months earlier Cameroon international Marc-Vivien Foe collapsed and died while playing in the Confederations Cup tournament in France.
Earlier on Tuesday, the hospital had said: ”The clinical evolution of the patient is unfavourable,” citing prolonged cardiac arrest that had damaged Puerta’s organs and led to a lack of oxygen to the brain.
The Spanish Football League (LFP) announced that next Monday’s league match between Sevilla and Osasuna had been postponed as a mark of respect.
”The Spanish professional league wishes to pass on its most sincere condolences to the family of Antonio Puerta of Sevilla and to all connected with Sevilla,” the LFP said in a statement.
”The LFP has declared an official day of mourning for the next round of matches and has asked all affiliated clubs to maintain a minute’s silence before games,” the statement concluded. — AFP