Tiote’s death the lat­est high-pro­file African tragedy

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

THE SUD­DEN death of Ivory Coast mid­fielder Cheik Tiote on Mon­day in­creased the num­ber of high-pro­file African play­ers who have col­lapsed and died while play­ing foot­ball, al­most all of them suf­fer­ing a form of car­diac ar­rest.

There has been no of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion of the cause of the for­mer New­cas­tle player’s fa­tal col­lapse while train­ing with his Bei­jing En­ter­prises club in China, but the cir­cum­stances are sim­i­lar to those in which many other play­ers have died.

Sa­muel Ok­waraji was the first ma­jor ca­su­alty of a dra­matic on-field death in Africa, col­laps­ing while play­ing for Nige­ria in a World Cup qual­i­fier against An­gola in La­gos in 1989.

An au­topsy showed the 25-year-old, who was a law stu­dent and on the books of VfB Stuttgart in Ger­many, suf­fered con­ges­tive heart fail­ure. He had an en­larged heart and high blood pres­sure.

His death left the con­ti­nent shocked, but there was a much wider au­di­ence in 2003 when Cameroon mid­fielder Mar­cVivien Foe fell 15 min­utes from the end of Cameroon’s match with Colom­bia in Lyon.

Medics spent 45 min­utes try­ing to restart Foe’s heart be­fore he was pro­nounced dead. His au­topsy found the Olympique Ly­on­nais player suf­fered from hy­per­trophic car­diomy­opa­thy, a hered­i­tary con­di­tion which in­creases the risk of col­lapse dur­ing ex­er­cise.

An award handed to the best African player in France’s topflight Ligue 1 was named af­ter Foe.

Other African in­ter­na­tion­als to die from heart at­tacks while play­ing were Amir Angwe and En­durance Ida­hor of Nige­ria and Tu­nisian cen­tre back Hedi Berkhissa, who col­lapsed dur­ing a friendly for his club Esper­ance against Lyon.

Zam­bia’s Chaswe Nsofwa died dur­ing a club match in Is­rael in 2007 while last year Cameroo­nian Pa­trick Ekeng col­lapsed and died play­ing for Di­namo Bucharest in Ro­ma­nia.

In April, for­mer Gabon de­fender Moise Brou Apanga suf­fered a heart at­tack train­ing with his club FC 105 Li­bre­ville and died.

Nige­rian Nwankwo Kanu’s ca­reer was halted for nine months not long af­ter he re­turned with a gold medal from the 1996 Olympics when In­ter Mi­lan’s doc­tors found a heart de­fect.

Surgery to re­place an aor­tic valve al­lowed the Nige­rian striker to re­sume his ca­reer.

In­ter’s med­i­cal team also found Sene­gal’s Khalilou Fadiga had an ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat af­ter the club signed him, and told one of the stand­out play­ers of the 2002 World Cup to quit.

But Fadiga car­ried on play­ing af­ter join­ing Bolton in 2004 where he had a de­fib­ril­la­tor fit­ted af­ter a col­lapse in the warm-up be­fore a game at Tottenham.

The quick think­ing of a doc­tor in the crowd at White Hart Lane in 2012 saved the life of an­other Bolton player, Con­gole­se­born Fabrice Muamba.

He fell to the ground just be­fore half­time but sur­vived de­spite his heart hav­ing stopped beat­ing for 78 min­utes. Mean­while, fans in the Ivory Coast and Eng­land have been shocked by the sud­den death of Tioté. Be­sides his ap­pear­ances for the Ivory Coast, Tioté was also a pop­u­lar fig­ure at New­cas­tle United, who have just won back pro­mo­tion to the Pre­mier League af­ter a year in the Cham­pi­onship di­vi­sion. CAF (Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball) pres­i­dent Ah­mad Ah­mad said yes­ter­day: “His death is a shock, espe­cially when one con­sid­ers his young age.

“My thoughts are with his fam­ily, his team-mates and with all the foot­ball fam­ily in Côte d’Ivoire.”

Tioté, an African Cup of Na­tions win­ner in 2015, was trans­ferred to China in Fe­bru­ary, af­ter hav­ing worn the jer­sey of New­cas­tle for seven years.

Tioté, who ar­rived in New­cas­tle in 2010 from FC Twente, in the First Di­vi­sion in the Nether­lands, wore the jer­sey of the Mag­pies 161 times.

A mem­ber of the Ivo­rian na­tional team dur­ing the 2010 and 2014 World Cups who earned 52 caps, Tioté started his Euro­pean ca­reer in An­der­lecht be­fore be­ing trans­ferred to Twente in 2008. – Reuters and ANA

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