x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Spain mourns sudden death of Jarque

The Primera Liga club Espanyol are shocked following the sudden death of their 26-year-old team captain.

Espanyol supporters observe a moment of silence during a memorial for Daniel Jarque inside the Cornella-El Prat stadium in Barcelona.
Espanyol supporters observe a moment of silence during a memorial for Daniel Jarque inside the Cornella-El Prat stadium in Barcelona.

BARCELONA // Spanish football is again in mourning after Espanyol's 26-year-old captain Dani Jarque died from heart failure on Saturday night. The Barcelona-born defender had trained earlier in the day before collapsing in his hotel room near Florence while talking to his girlfriend - who is seven months pregnant - on the telephone in the early evening. Jarque's teammates realised something was wrong when he did not show for an evening meal as his girlfriend frantically tried to raise the alarm. An Espanyol statement said: "Misfortune has befallen Espanyol and the family of Dani Jarque. He died due to a systolic heart failure. [Club doctor] Doctor Cervera tried CPR on the player and used adefibrillator, which showed that the arrest was non-responsive. "After a few minutes, the first ambulance arrived from the Florence emergency services, who tried again with the defibrillator they carried. The medical services continued carrying out CPR, administering adrenaline and atropine for an hour. But the player's heart did not react, so finally that determined his death. Espanyol are distraught and wish to put themselves at the complete disposal of our captain's family."

Several rival Barcelona players and coach Pep Guardiola paid tributes, while club president Joan Laporta offered his condolences by saying: "We are filled with extreme dismay at this tragic event which we deeply regret. We are all in mourning. I want to send, on behalf of FC Barcelona, our deepest sympathies to RCD Espanyol for the painful loss of their captain Dani Jarque, and to his family." Barca wore black armbands for their 1-1 friendly game against Chivas in San Francisco yesterday, while Real Madrid captain Raul said: "That such a young man, a great professional and sportsman, has suffered this has left us very upset." Espanyol cancelled their game against Bologna yesterday and cut short their pre-season tour of Italy to return to Barcelona.

Jarque's body remained in Italy for an autopsy to confirm the cause of death as hundreds of Espanyol fans made tributes to their captain outside gate 21 - the number Jarque wore - of their new stadium at Cornella. Less than a week earlier, Jarque had proudly led his team mates on to the field as the stadium opened with a friendly against Liverpool in front of an emotional 40,000 crowd. Jarque joined Espanyol aged 12 and progressed through the youth ranks, making his first-team debut at 19 in 2002, the year he was a European champion with Spain's U19 side. He was held as example to Espanyol's youth players that they could reach the first team and enjoy the success of Jarque, who was part of the team who won the Copa Del Rey in 2006 and reached the Uefa Cup final a year later. He was made club captain only weeks ago, replacing Raul Tamudo as Espanyol sought a fresh direction in their new home. For Jarque and his family, leading the team out at Cornella was a crowning moment and there are fresh calls for the new stadium to be named after him. "The players are destroyed," said Espanyol director German de la Cruz. "One minute he was there with them, and the next he's gone. It's terrible." Jarque's death comes nearly two years after Sevilla's Antonio Puerta died due to heart failure three days after collapsing during a Primera Liga match against Getafe.

After the tributes, there will be more questions about why an ultra-fit athlete died in his physical prime. Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe, Benfica striker Miklós Fehér and Motherwell midfielder Phil O'Donnell all died because of heart failure and Real's Ruben de la Red will not play this season because of a heart condition. amitten@thenational.ae