Chaswe Nsofwa, a former Zambia international, Spanish international Antonio Puerta and Anton Reid, a youth team player in England, have all died in the past two weeks from heart problems. Clive Clarke, the Leicester City defender, collapsed this week, during half-time in a match with Nottingham Forest, with a serious heart problem and is still in hospital.
The question most fans are asking is how this can happen to professional athletes, apparently at the peak of fitness. There have been immediate calls for better and more regular heart screening for players (see comments from Fifa’s chief medical officer, Professor Jiri Dvorak in The Telegraph, for example). It’s raised questions about whether football, and sport in general, is doing enough to monitor the health of its players. Or are these three terrible premature deaths that mirror many more that get little to no attention in the international media.
Or are our demands too high, do we force them to play too many games, at such a frantic pace. It’s a point that was also made in The Times by Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the PFA. Is it time to make a drastic cut in the number of games we ask our top players to play?