Spanish league club Espanyol were in a state of shock yesterday following the sudden death of their 26-year-old team captain Dani Jarque.
Defender Jarque, who was about to become a father, collapsed in his hotel room on Saturday during a club tour of Italy and died of heart failure after attempts to revive him failed, the Primera Liga side said.
Jarque’s death came two years after Spanish soccer was shocked by the death of Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta following his collapse on the field during a match.
“I find it very hard to believe these things happen,” Espanyol president Daniel Sanchez Llibre told sports daily Mundo Deportivo. “Jarque was a great person and a great professional. He was very happy because he was about to become a father. He loved Espanyol and was very excited with the new stadium and [his recent appointment to] the captaincy.”
Espanyol paid tribute to the player on their Web site.
“The smiling, discrete boy from Sant Boi [a small town near Barcelona] has left an enormous hole in our soul, but he will always have a place in our hearts,” the club said.
Puerta’s death in August 2007 from a prolonged cardiac arrest, aged 22, surprised many as it happened to a player who appeared to be in his prime.
Referring to Jarque, Espanyol director German de la Cruz told La Sexta television: “As it is the beginning of the season, the first thing that happens is that every player does an exhaustive medical. Dani never showed even the slightest sign that would make you think something as unfortunate as this could happen.”
Barca president Joan Laporta told www.fcbarcelona.com: “We are filled with extreme sadness at this tragic event and tonight we are in mourning. On behalf of Barcelona, we want to send our deepest sympathies to Espanyol for the painful loss of their captain Dani Jarque, and to his family.”
A minute’s silence was observed at the start of the second half of a pre-season friendly at the Mestella Stadium where Valencia were taking on English side Arsenal.
Players from both sides wore black armbands. Real Madrid and the Spanish soccer federation sent condolences to Jarque’s family.
An autopsy was to be carried out on Jarque in Italy before his body is returned to Spain.