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August 10, 2009

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Espanyol mourns death of young captain

SPANISH club Espanyol was in a state of shock yesterday following the sudden death of its 26-year-old team captain Dani Jarque.

Defender Jarque, who was about to become a father, collapsed in his hotel room in Coverciano, near Florence, on Saturday during a club tour of Italy and died of heart failure after attempts to revive him failed, the Primera Liga side said.

Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport said Jarque was on the phone with his girlfriend when he suddenly fell silent and the woman then alerted club officials.

Jarque's death came two years after Spanish football was shocked by the death of Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta following his collapse on the field during a match.

"I find it very hard to believe these things happen," Espanyol President Daniel Sanchez Llibre told sports daily Mundo Deportivo.

"Jarque was a great person and a great professional. He was very happy because he was about to become a father. He loved Espanyol and was very excited with the new stadium and (his recent appointment to) the captaincy."

Espanyol paid tribute to the player on its Website.

"The smiling, discrete boy from Sant Boi (a small town near Barcelona) has left an enormous hole in our soul, but he will always have a place in our hearts," the club said.

Puerta's death in August 2007 from a prolonged cardiac arrest, aged 22, surprised many as it happened to a player who appeared to be in his prime.

Referring to Jarque, Espanyol director German de la Cruz told La Sexta television: "As it is the beginning of the season, the first thing that happens is that every player does an exhaustive medical.

"Dani never showed even the slightest sign that would make you think something as unfortunate as this could happen.

"The players are destroyed. One minute he was there with them, and the next he's gone. It's terrible."

An autopsy is to be carried out on Jarque in Italy before his body is returned to Spain.

The club had been due to play friendlies against Bologna and Livorno in the coming days, on its Italian tour.

Barcelona and Real Madrid, both on tour in the United States, sent their respects.


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