BUCHAREST – Cameroon international Patrick Ekeng died after collapsing on the pitch playing a first division match on Friday with his Romanian side Dinamo Bucharest.
The 26-year-old midfielder fell to the ground without any contact with another player in the 70th minute of the game against Viitorul, just seven minutes after coming on as a substitute.
Ekeng, who joined the Romanian club in January, was rushed to the hospital where staff was unable to resuscitate him.
“Resuscitation attempts were made for an hour and a half without success,” Dinamo team doctor Liviu Batineanu told journalists.
Fans of the Bucharest club gathered outside the hospital late into the night to express their grief at the player’s death.
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.”
Before arriving in Romania, Ekeng played for several European clubs, spending four seasons with French Ligue 2 side Le Mans from 2009 to 2013.
The player from Yaounde then transferred to Lausanne in Switzerland from 2013-14 and Spanish side Córdoba from 2014-15 before joining Dinamo.
“We will love you forever, Patrick Ekeng!” the Bucharest club wrote on Facebook, adding the player had ” gone to a better world wearing the white-red shirt to join Catalin Haldan and other players who have written the history” of the club.
Ekeng made his debut for Cameroon in January 2015 and was named in the squad for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations from which Indomitable Lions’ were eliminated in the group stage.
His death also echoed that of his countryman Marc-Vivien Foe, who died of a heart attack in 2003 playing an Confederations Cup match against Colombia at the Gerland Stadium in Lyon, France.