Monday, 29 July 2013

Deadly Game

Gone too soon - Christian Benitez
The terrible news of of the death of Christian Benitez today is just another in a long list of names that have sadly passed on too young while still playing the game.

This brings me to Besian Idrizaj. Perhaps the closed that we as fans have come close to losing one our own. It what appears to be far more common these days and highlighted by the success story of Fabrice Muamba. In success I mean that he is alive albeit not able to play football any longer. But Marc-Vivien Foe, Antonio Puerta, Daneil Jarque to name but a few were not so lucky.

Marc Vivien Foe shockingly collapsed during a game

Besian joined Palace on a twelve month loan deal from Liverpool in August 2007. The somewhat lanky striker made his debut against Charlton Athletic as a substitute. Unfortunately he failed to make a mark at Palace but there was a sense that the fans took a liking to him. Then manager Neil Warnock requested that Liverpool take him back after seven appearances. His loan was cancelled and he returned to Austria to play for Wacker Innsbruck for the remainder of the season on loan. 

Besian played seven games for Palace

"It was in his time at Innsbruck that he collapsed in a game against Sturm Graz but after medical tests it was deemed to be as a result of a virus rather than any heart problem."

He signed for Swansea City in 2009 but only ended up playing three games for them even though he initially impressed manager Paulo Sousa. Sadly, Besian died in May 2010 at the age of 22 only two weeks after the end of the Championship season. It was suggested that he suffered a heart attack in his sleep but it was later revealed that he had collapsed on two separate occasions while playing football.

His Swansea team-mates won the play off final the following May and as a mark of respect all wore t-shirts with his name and picture on. They have since retired his number 40 shirt.

It beggars belief that this poor guy was never diagnosed with the heart problem that he clearly had. I am confident in saying that if this had happened now we are 'post' Muamba then it would more likely not have happened. Besian is not the first and will not be the last but while he didn't take the footballing world by storm he should have surely been given the chance to live a much longer life even if that wasn't in football. It was no age and while many will not remember him playing for Palace, I will.

RIP Besian

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