Wolfsburg defensive midfielder Junior Malanda has been killed in a car crash in Germany, it has been confirmed.
The 20-year-old is reported to have been in the back of a vehicle in nort-west Germany which, according to German police, was travelling at excessive speed. The accident occurred at 15:35 German time on the A2, otherwise known as the Bundesautobahn 2.
A statement on http://www.belgianfootball.be read: "The football world today lost a great talent. Junior Malanda lost his life this afternoon, at the age of 20.
"The Belgian Football Association extends its sympathy to family and friends."
According to German newspaper Bild, Malanda was due to fly to South Africa this evening along with his club team-mates for a training camp. The reports alleges that the car skidded before flying over a guardrail and crashing into a tree and landing on its roof.
Police told Bild: "It is assumed that excessive speed was cause of the accident in violent wind and aquaplaning [conditions].”
They also confirmed that the vehicle had been taken for further analysis as part of an ongoing investigation.
Malanda is said to have been thrown forward after the car hit the tree, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Two other passengers in the vehicle were seriously injured and have been taken to hospital.
The report alleged that the car, a Volkswagen Touareg, was being driven in heavy rain and gusts of wind when it crashed near Porta Westfalica
The Belgium Under-21 international joined Wolfsburg in 2013 from Zulte Waregem, although he was loaned back to the Belgian club upon his transfer.
He made 15 appearances for the Bundesliga club this season, and played on seven occasions for Belgium’s Under-21 side in their failed campaign to qualify for the Uefa Under-21 Championship later this year having finished third in Group 9.
Tributes soon began to be posted on social media for Malanda with a number of his Wolfsburg and Belgian team-mates taking to Twitter to express their grief.
Former Chelsea midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, who played alongside Malanda at Wolfsburg, said: "So strange to hear your friend in the morning and then hear this news. Lost a great friend way too early. RIP my friend. You will always be around."
So strange to hear your friend in the morning and then hear this news. Lost a great friend way too early. RIP my friend. @JuniorMalanda; Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) January 10, 2015
Ex-Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner wrote on Instagram: "Not only a great player, but a great person. My thoughts and prayers will always be with you and your family brother. Your kind heart was rare and special. You will always be remembered."
Thorgan Hazard, who played with Malanda during their time at Zulte Waregem, said: Whyyyyy??? I love you brooo."
Whyyyyy???i love you brooopic.twitter.com/drkt8Nz8cR; Thorgan Hazard (@HazardThorgan8) January 10, 2015
Current Chelsea goalkeeper and Belgian No 1 Thibaut Courtois said: "RIP @JuniorMalanda!! We lose a huge talent and a great person!!"
RIP @JuniorMalanda !! We lose a huge talent and a great person!!; Thibaut Courtois (@thibautcourtois) January 10, 2015
Finally, the Royal Belgian Football Association posted: "The world of football has lost a great talent today. URBSFA sends its condolences to his family & friends #ripmalanda."Reuse content