Durban - The Chatsworth football fraternity is in mourning after a local club’s star player collapsed during a match and later died of a suspected heart attack.
The incident occurred in the opening game of the league season, during a local Premier Division match between Chatsworth clubs LA Stars and Bayview United Sporting Club, at Westcliff Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Muziwokuthula “Muzi” Mordecal Mthiyane, 32, of KwaMashu, took to the field in his customary central midfield position.
However, tragedy struck about 10 minutes into the game when he collapsed.
Mthiyane died while being taken to hospital in his manager’s vehicle.
Former AmaZulu player and LA Stars coach, Dylin Pillay, said he was watching from the touchline as Mthiyane was standing around the centre circle when he suddenly collapsed.
“The referee immediately stopped the game. It looked as though he had gone into a coma. His eyes were closed and he was gasping for breath. His pulse had dropped,” said Pillay.
“There was a male nurse in the crowd who tried resuscitating him while we called for an ambulance. We decided to rush him to hospital in the manager’s vehicle. Unfortunately, he did not make it.”
LA Stars manager, Daniel Pillay, was devastated.
He described Mthiyane as the “engine room” of the team.
“I still can’t believe how someone so fit can just suddenly collapse and have a heart attack. He was our star player and the person who made the team tick. He was probably the fittest person in our entire team.”
Pillay said the club officials had visited Mthiyane’s family and hoped to assist in whatever way possible.
Mthiyane’s brother, Fanie, said the family were going to take a long time to get over his death.
“My mom is in a bad state. He was married with two girls, aged 4 and 10. Ever since he was born, soccer has always been his passion. He loved the sport. He was super fit and wasn’t on any medication. His health was perfect,” he said.
“He was a quiet, reserved person and a loveable character.”
The chairman of the SA Football Association (Safa) for the Chatsworth region, Nelson Kuppen, said the organisation was deeply saddened by the death.
“This was the opening game of the league season and everyone was looking forward to it with anticipation. It is a real tragedy. Safa would like to convey its condolences to the family.”
A post-mortem will be carried out to determine the cause of death.
The funeral is to take place on Saturday at C-section Hall in KwaMashu.
Footballers collapsing on the soccer pitch after suffering a cardiac arrest are not that rare: In 2012, Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba (23 at the time) suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for his club against Tottenham Hotspur in an FA Cup match.
It was reported that he was resuscitated on the field and survived.
In 2007, Spanish footballer Antonio Puerta suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for Seville against Getafe in a La Liga match.
He died three days later in hospital.