Cheik Tiote’s sudden death on Monday during training becomes the latest among the high-profile African players who collapsed to death while playing football. The former Newcastle United midfielder died while training in China with his Beijing Enterprises club.
Although the cause of Tiote’s death is still not confirmed, it is surprising to note that almost all these players suffered from a cardiac arrest. It is rather curious to note that the circumstances that led to the death of the midfielder from Ivory Coast as well as others was rather similar.
The first major casualty from Africa’s football fraternity was Samuel Okwaraji who died on-field while playing the World Cup qualifier for Nigeria against Angola in 1989. His autopsy reports said that he died of an enlarged heart and high blood pressure, leading to congestive heart failure.
He was followed by Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe, who collapsed in Lyon during the Cofederations Cup semi-final against Colombia in 2003. His autopsy showed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary condition which increases the risk of collapse during exercise.
Other less known African players who collapsed to death during football matches are Amir Angwe, Endurance Idahor and Hedi Berkhissa. Many more incidents have followed in the recent past and they have all pointed towards a heart failure or weakness.