Heartbreaking moments in football: Players who have collapsed on the pitch

With Christian Eriksen being the latest footballer to collapse in the middle of the match, let us take a look at some of the other footballers who have collapsed on the pitch:

Fabrice Muamba, playing for Bolton, collapsed in 2012; Credit: Twitter
By Karthik Raman | Jun 12, 2021 | 4 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Game after game, football provides us with wonderful experiences, victories, and happiness. It is a sport that unites the entire world when a football is kicked on the pitch. This sport has the magical ability to make everyone forget about their daily problems for 90 minutes. It does, however, have its sad and difficult moments – none more tragic than to see our beloved footballers collapsing on the pitch. Christian Eriksen was the latest such player. The Inter Milan midfielder was given CPR on the field after collapsing during Denmark’s Euro 2020 opening match against Finland on Saturday as he went to take a throw-in. The match was officially postponed due to a medical emergency at the end of the first half, with the score still reading 0-0.

Many players have been through the same sad experience in the past. Let us look at the other players who have collapsed on the football pitch:

Marc-Vivien Foe (2003)

The death of former Lens player Marc-Vivien Foe, who also played for English Premier League clubs West Ham United and Manchester City, shocked the footballing world in 2003. Cameroon faced Colombia in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup on June 26, 2003, in Lyon, France. Foe, who was 28 then, collapsed in the centre circle in the 72nd minute of the game. He was stretchered off the field after attempts were made to resuscitate him on the pitch, and he got mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and oxygen. Medics attempted to restart his heart for 45 minutes. The midfielder was still alive when he arrived at the stadium’s medical centre, but he died shortly after.

Cheick Tiote (2017)

It was one of the most recent such incidents, which sent shockwaves across the footballing world. Ivory Coast player Tiote, who had just recently transferred from Premier League club Newcastle United to Beijing Enterprises, fell during a training session after suffering a cardiac arrest on 5 June 2017. He was taken to the hospital but died an hour later. It had only been a few weeks since his 31st birthday. His memorial service was conducted in Beijing on June 13th, with his Beijing Enterprises teammates and Papiss Cisse, who played with him at Newcastle, in attendance. Five days later, he was laid to rest in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in front of his national teammates and even the Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly was there.

Cristiano Junior (2004)

In the 78th minute of the Federation Cup finals, Dempo forward Junior collided with Mohun Bagan goalie Subrata Pal. While scoring his second goal after chasing the ball into the box, he collided with the goalkeeper, staggered away, and then collapsed. With attempts to revive him being unsuccessful, Junior was taken off the field, while the game continued. He was dead on arrival at a hospital. Dempo won the Cup 2-0, but the result was insignificant as the players and fans were filled with grief. According to the autopsy performed in the hospital, the footballer died because of a heart stroke. Dempo later announced that they would retire Junior’s No.10 shirt.

Antonio Puerta (2007)

During Sevilla’s first La Liga match of the 2007-08 season against Getafe CF on August 25, 2007, Puerta collapsed and lost consciousness in the penalty area due to a cardiac arrest. After barely 35 minutes of play, he was observed crouching and then collapsing as he returned to his team’s goal. The medical staff of the club and the players quickly surrounded him.

Puerta was able to walk to the dressing room after recovering and being replaced, but he collapsed again. He was resuscitated by doctors and transferred to a hospital by ambulance, where he died three days later. At the time of his death, Puerta’s girlfriend was expecting their first child. His funeral was attended by players from both Sevilla and local rival Real Betis.

Fabrice Muamba (2012)

The Bolton Wanderers midfielder suffered a similar incident, but luckily though, he survived and made a fully recovery from it. Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed during the first half of an FA Cup quarter-final match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on 17 March 2012. Medical staff, including a consultant cardiologist, who was a fan at the game, gave him a lot of attention on the field. Muamba was transferred to a hospital after that, accompanied by Bolton manager Owen Coyle and club captain Kevin Davies in the ambulance.

Referee Howard Webb called the game off, and Bolton’s next match, against Aston Villa, due to be played three days later, was postponed at the club’s request. Muamba’s heart reportedly stopped for 78 minutes during the ordeal, but thankfully his life was saved. He was discharged from hospital on 16 April and he even attended Bolton’s home match against Tottenham Hotspur on 2 May. Not long after, his club announced that Muamba has retired from professional football on the advice of his medical team.