ROMANIA, May 7 – Dinamo Bucharest and Cameroon midfielder Patrick Ekeng has died in hospital after collapsing on the pitch during a Romanian league match on Friday.
Cristian Pandrea, a spokesman for the Floreasca Hospital, said doctors tried for an hour to resuscitate the 26-year-old midfielder but failed. The cause of death was not known.
Dinamo were leading 3-2 against Viitorul Constanta at home when midfielder Ekeng fell to the ground in the 69th minute, seven minutes after he came on as a substitute.
Ekeng stumbled in the middle of the pitch before falling down to the turf and players from both teams soon rushed to his side as he laid motionless on the grass.
A statement on Dinamo’s official Facebook page said: “Dinamo tonight lost footballer Claude Patrick Ekeng Ekeng forever.
“On behalf of all of Dinamo, sincere condolences to the bereaved family. God rest his soul.”
Local media in Romania reported he had a heart attack and he was immediately taken to the hospital, where dozens of fans gathered outside.
Players and staff could be seen crying as events unfolded, while some went with him to the hospital, which is next door to the stadium.
“Resuscitation attempts were made for an hour and half without success,” Dinamo team doctor Liviu Paltinean said.
He has played for Spanish club Cordoba, Swiss club Lausanne, and French outfit Le Mans. He moved to Dinamo in 2016 and made seven appearances in the league.
Club executive director Ionel Danciulescu expressed his shock after a death which recalled that of another club player Catalin Haldan who died playing a friendly in October 2000.
“I can’t believe it. It’s a nightmare. For me, for the team and for all Dinamo supporters. It’s too much,” said Danciulescu.
‘It’s as if we are cursed.”
Play continued Viitorul Constanta rescued a point against the Romanian giants in the 84th minute with Alexandru Matan netting the equaliser.
Tributes have poured in for Ekeng with the player’s former club Cordoba expressing their grief on their official Instagram account.
The Spanish club tweeted tweeted: “There are no words to express our grief at the death of Patrick Ekeng. Mourn your loss. Friend will never forget you.”
Stephane Mbia, the former Queens Park Rangers midfielder, posted a picture of the pair on Twitter and sent his “condolences to his family.”
Premier League pair Anthony Martial, the Manchester United striker, and Arsenal right back Hector Bellerin were also rocked by the news.
Martial tweeted “Rip Patrick Ekeng” while Spaniard Bellerin posted “RIP Patrick Ekeng. Heartbreaking to see another footballer pass playing the game we love.”