Tiote’s death the latest high-profile African tragedy
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