The news of Air India midfielder Soccor Velho’s death on Saturday evening was greeted by utter shock by all those who knew the player.
The 29-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest after complaining of breathlessness and passed away on the way to hospital in Goa. Earlier in the day, Velho had shown no signs of any illness and had returned home in the evening after playing a practice game for Margao Select XI against the India U-19 squad at the Chowgule ground.
Walter Pereira, the chairman of the Western India Football Association Referees Board said, “The news of his death hasn’t sunk in yet. On Friday, I spoke to him and he told me he was exploring opportunities of playing for better clubs. He was a god-fearing person and the fittest footballer I have known. He didn’t have any bad habits.”
On the ground, Velho was quick and could play as per the team’s requirements. He was a midfielder but would run with the ball into the opposition’s box like a striker. His problem was that many a times he would come close to scoring and miss it, but he was a terror to the opposition. He would create chances for the strikers. His exploits on the field were dangerous but off it he was a very shy and reclusive person.
He didn’t like to mingle much and hardly spoke much unless asked for. He would open up with people only he knew very well. “Soccor was posted at Panjim as a customer service officer. I just can’t believe that a player who is not even 30 died of cardiac arrest. Right now I am not in a position to delve into details about what we will do for his family. But we will surely do something,” Air India official Joginder Thapa said.
Former Air India coach Santosh Kashyap said though this is not the first instance of a footballer dying of cardiac arrest, the issue needs deeper exploration.
“I am in a state of shock. How can such a fit player die of cardiac arrest? I reconfirmed with a lot of people before coming to terms with the news of his death.
“I feel bad for his family as he got married just two years ago and has a nine-month-old son. The country and Air India has lost one of their brightest players.” Henry Picardo, former Air India player and currently the manager of Mumbai FC said, “He was a very disciplined player. He was one of the fittest and fastest players that Air India had. He was a shy and a good human being.”
Meanwhile, on the same day in Bangalore ex-footballer Sampath Kumar (47) passed away due to a heart attack.