Soccer Star Antonio Purta Dies 3 Days After Collapsing During Match

SEVILLE, Spain (AP) -- Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta died Tuesday, three days after collapsing on the field during his team's Spanish league game against Getafe.

Puerta died of "multiple organ failure stemming from prolonged cardiac arrest" and subsequent coronary problems, Virgen del Rocio Hospital director Gimeno Guerrero said in a statement.

"This is one of the saddest days in the history of FC Sevilla," team president Jose Maria del Nido said, fighting to hold back tears.

The 22-year-old Puerta had been in an intensive care unit since Saturday and had been given assisted ventilation, but his condition worsened Tuesday.

Puerta lost consciousness and fell near his own goal Saturday in the 31st minute, but was able to walk off minutes later after being treated by team doctors. Doctors said he had a heart attack in the locker room and at least one more in the emergency room of a Seville hospital.

"The Professional Football League wishes to pass on its most sincere condolences to the family of Antonio Puerta," the league said in a statement. "It has also declared the next day of league play to be one of official mourning and asked all its affiliated teams to observe a minute's silence before the games."

A wake open to the public will be held for Puerta starting at midnight Tuesday ahead of his burial on Wednesday, and his family has asked that his body be wrapped in a team flag, Sevilla said on its Web site.

Sevilla, which beat Getafe 4-1 in Saturday's match, was scheduled to play at AEK Athens on Tuesday in the second leg of Champions League qualifying, but the match was postponed by the Union of European Football Associations.

The game will be played Monday, when Sevilla had been scheduled to play Osasuna in the Spanish league. Sevilla remained scheduled to play AC Milan in the European Super Cup on Friday at Monte Carlo, Monaco.

"Milan remains available and shares ... any decision that will be taken by UEFA for the European Super Cup match, whether it will be played or not," Milan said on its Web site.

Puerta, who was born in Seville, has played for Spain's national team and scored one of Sevilla's penalty kicks in the shootout win over Espanyol in May in the UEFA Cup final.

He also scored an injury-time goal that led Sevilla over Schalke in the semifinals of the 2006 UEFA Cup. Sevilla went on to win the final, beating Middlesbrough 4-0.

"UEFA and the entire football family extend their sympathy and sincere condolences to the family of Antonio Puerta," UEFA said.

Other soccer players who have died after collapsing on the field include Benfica's Miklos Feher in 2004 and Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe at the 2003 Confederations Cup in France.


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