Kuala Lumpur: Nigerian defender David Oniya collapsed on the pitch and died after playing just a few minutes of a local friendly in Malaysia on Saturday, reports said.
Oniya, 30, went down about three minutes into the game for T-Team and was pronounced dead at hospital around half-an-hour later, the club's chief executive told The Star newspaper. CEO Syahrizan Mohd Zain said Oniya, who was in his first season with second-tier T-Team, had barely touched the ball in the friendly with Super League side Kelantan in Kota Bharu.
"There was no hard running and it was a slow tempo match. It's only a friendly game," Syahrizan was quoted as saying. "The match was called off in the 60th minute when we received a call from the hospital that Oniya had died." Syahrizan also complained that the ambulance driver had been slow.
"He suffered a heart attack but it could have been a different story had the ambulance driver (been) alert. The driver was at the stands watching the game when Oniya suddenly collapsed and our defender was deprived of oxygen for several minutes," he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.
The centre back had played football for more than 10 years as a professional. Prior to his Malaysian stint, the Nigerian had also played in leagues in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Deaths on the pitch, often from heart failure, are not unheard of and Belgium lost two players in two weeks in late April and May.
The most prominent case was Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe, who collapsed and died while playing a Confederations Cup semi-final against Colombia in Lyon in 2003.