Thousands of football fans have visited Sevilla’s Sanchez Pizjuan stadium to pay homage to Antonio Puerta, who died three days after collapsing during a league match at the weekend.
The 22-year-old’s body was taken to the stadium shortly after midnight local time where over 10,000 fans had gathered during the evening.
Sevilla fans placed prayer candles and tributes at the stadium doors, while lengthy queues formed to file past his coffin.
The Sevilla players travelled directly to the stadium from the airport after returning from Athens where their Champions League match against AEK had been postponed as a mark of respect to Puerta.
Accompanied by club president Jose Maria del Nido, they filed past the fans and remained with the player’s family until 5am local time.
Puerta, who won back-to-back UEFA Cups with Sevilla, collapsed after jogging back towards his own goal 35 minutes into Saturday’s game against Getafe. Although he walked off the pitch he collapsed again in the changing rooms and had to be given resuscitation before being taken to hospital.
Medical experts said that the collapse was caused by a weakness in the right ventricle of the player’s heart that can cause arrhythmias. Although the player had fainted on two previous occasions, the doctors problem was extremely difficult to detect and was unlikely to show up in medical tests.
Puerta is not the fSevilla player to have died after collapsing on the pitch. Striker Pedro Berruezo died as a result of a heart ailment when he collapsed during a second division match against Pontevedra in 1973 at the age of 27.