Death, they say, is inevitable, but in the African tradition, how you make the transition from this life to the afterlife is critical to considering it a mysterious death or not.
Though every death is painful no matter the age of the person, we, as lovers of football, will never forget the painful deaths of some players whose deaths will never be forgotten because of how and what they were doing before meeting their end.
Many footballers have lost their lives to accidents or diseases, but those who lost their lives on the pitch while playing football with a huge crowd attendance and media coverage will never be forgotten as Manchester City has retired the number 26 to remember the late Marc-Vivien Foé.
Maybe, many of such deaths happened and weren’t recorded, but today, August 12, 2022, in the history books, former Super Eagles player, Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji, was the first player to die on the football pitch.
Samuel died while playing in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Angola at the National Stadium in Lagos. He collapsed ten minutes into the game, and that was the last time he was seen playing football.
According to reports in Nigeria, he died from complications of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, as the autopsy showed an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.
GhanaWeb commemorates with the family of Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji and the people of Nigeria, and we remember the six other African players who met their end on the pitch.
Here are the six other African players who died on the football pitch:
The former Accra Hearts of Oak player is the first on this list as he is the only Ghanaian footballer to have died after collapsing on the football pitch or in training.
He was reported to have collapsed in training with his club, Etoile du Sahel in Tunisia and died from a reported cardiac arrest.
Uriah Asante died at the age of 24, having spent two years with Accra Hearts of Oak.
Marc-Vivien Foé – Cameroon
The former defensive midfielder of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon who was born on May 1, 1975, in Yaounde died while playing for his country in the FIFA Confederation Cup against Colombia.
Foé passed out in the game against Columbia, and despite the attempts of the medics to revive him for 45 minutes, he couldn’t make it as he died hours later on June 26, 2003.
At the time of his sudden death, Marc-Vivien Foé was a player of Manchester City on loan from Olympique Lyonnais.
Cheick Tiote – Ivory Coast
Born on June 21, 1986, in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, the former Newcastle United midfielder died on the training pitch with his Chinese Super League club Beijing Enterprises Group.
He died at the age of 30 on June 5, 2017, and was said to have passed out after suffering from Cardiac arrest.
Moise Brou Apanga – Gabon
Making 33 appearances and scored a goal for the Gabonese national team from 2007 to 2013, the former Brescia defender died at the age of 35 from a heart attack.
He died after collapsing during a training session with his home-based, FC 105 Libreville on April 26, 2017.
He featured twice in the Africa Cup of Nations (2010 and 2012) for the Panthers of Gabon.
Patrick Ekeng – Cameroon
Born in Yaoundé, Cameroon on March 26, 1990, Patrick Ekeng died while playing for Romanian club Dinamo București in 2016.
He died on May 6, 2016, after collapsing in a league game while playing for Dinamo București against Viitorul Constanța.
He collapsed 7 minutes after being introduced in the game in the 70th minute and his death was attributed to a heart attack.
Patrick made only two appearances for the Cameroonian national team after making his debut in 2012 before his sudden death in 2016.
He made his debut for the Zambia national team in 2000, making 33 appearances and scoring 9 goals before his death at the age of 28 in 2007.
Nsofwa collapsed in training while preparing for a league game with his club Hapoel Be’er Sheva and couldn’t survive.
He was declared dead upon his arrival at the Soroka Medical Center in Israel.