A Ghana international striker has died on the pitch six years after a proposed move to the Premier League fell through because of a heart condition.
Raphael Dwamena was playing for Egnatia against Partizani in Albania on Saturday when he collapsed on the turf, aged 28. “Despite the immediate intervention of specialist doctors he unfortunately passed away,” said the Albanian Football Federation (AFL).
No cause of death has been given but Dwamena, the leading scorer in the Albanian league this season with nine goals, had a history of heart issues.
Brighton and Hove Albion had tried to sign him in the summer of 2017 for £10 million but the club pulled out of a deal with FC Zurich after he failed a medical.
In 2020, Dwamena successfully underwent heart surgery a year after being diagnosed with a pulmonary condition. Dwamena, who won nine caps and scored two goals for his country, then collapsed during a 2021 cup match in Austria between his side Blau-Weiss Linz and Hartberg.
However, he recovered and continued his playing career, reportedly with an automatic defibrillator implanted. Restrictions vary across domestic leagues on whether players can continue to play after having implantable cardioverter defibrillators fitted.
Christian Eriksen, for example, was given the green light by the Football Association to play for Brentford and then Manchester United even though he had been stopped from playing in Serie A after having an ICD fitted following his cardiac arrest during a match at Euro 2020.
Player welfare is assessed case by case, however. Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba announced he was retiring fairly shortly after his collapse in 2012. But Ajax’s former Manchester United defender Daley Blind continued playing with an ICD fitted after being diagnosed with heart muscle inflammation.
Saturday’s match was abandoned and the federation has postponed all games scheduled in Albania this week.
“The AFL expresses its deepest condolences to the Dwamena family and the Egnatia club for this great loss that has shocked the entire Albanian football community,” the federation said.
The Ghana Football Association (GFA) said it sent “our deepest condolences to his family at this difficult moment”.
“He served his country well and showed class any time he represented Ghana,” GFA president Kurt Edwin Simeon Okraku said in a statement.
Dwamena also played for Levante in La Liga and for Real Zaragoza on loan. Lavante wrote in a tribute: “Our thoughts are with his family and his loved ones in these difficult moments. His legacy in our club will last forever.”
Zaragoza added in a statement: “We are devastated by the sad news of the passing of our former player Raphael Dwamena. You will always be in the memory of Zaragoza´s fans. Rest in peace.”