Thousands of Livorno supporters left flags, scarves and flowers outside their Armando Picchi stadium yesterday in memory of their midfielder Piermario Morosini who died on Saturday after collapsing during the Serie B match at Pescara.
In tragic scenes reminiscent of the collapse of Bolton's Fabrice Muamba – the midfielder treated on the pitch at White Hart Lane four weeks ago but who is recovering in hospital – attempts were made to revive Morosini before the game was abandoned and he was taken to hospital. He was pronounced dead on arrival after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest.
Morosini, on loan from Udinese, was 25 years old. Italian media has claimed that there was a delay in getting the ambulance on to the pitch caused by a police car parked in front of the entrance to the ground.
"It's one of the saddest days of my career in football." Udinese president Giampaolo Pozzo said. "I have never come across a tragedy like this."
Morosini's life had been marked by pain – both his parents died before he turned 18, and recently his younger brother committed suicide. "Life forced him to confront things that were larger than him," said Serse Cosmi, his former coach at Udinese who gave him his debut. "Destiny took him to be reunited with his family. The only positive thing I can think of is that he might now be happy to be with them again."
Morosini started his career at Atalanta's youth academy, before joining Udinese in 2005 and embarking on a series of loan spells. He made 18 appearances for Italy Under-21s, but never played for the full team.
"He was golden, always trying to help his family," the Atalanta youth team director Mino Favini said."He was a fantastic lad who always rushed to help everyone. He lived for his family, yet he was such an unlucky man."
Italy's sports minister Piero Gnudi has called for more heart screening for sportsmen following Morosini's death."It is always difficult to accept the death of a young man of only 25, especially during a context of enjoyment and sport." Gnudi said. "The recent repetition of dramatic incidents like this must also force us to work on doing everything possible to guarantee accurate and frequent medical tests so that we may limit in every way the chance of this happening again."
An autopsy into the cause of Morosini's death is expected to be performed today to find out whether to cause of death was linked to the brain or indeed the heart. All the weekend's Serie A matches were postponed until 25 April as a tribute.
In Spain, Real Madrid stayed four points ahead of Barcelona in La Liga ahead of their El Clasico meeting at the Nou Camp this Saturday. Madrid came back from a goal down to defeat 10-man Sporting Gijon 3-1 at the Bernabeu, with Gonzalo Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Karim Benzema getting on the scoresheet for Jose Mourinho's side. Gijon's Roberto Canella was dismissed late on for a second yellow card.
Barcelona warmed up for their Champions League semi-final visit to Chelsea on Wednesday with a 2-1 victory at Levante, also fighting back from a goal down before Lionel Messi took over to score both goals. Ronaldo and Messi's goals brought their league totals up to 41 each, both players setting a La Liga scoring record in a season. "It's a little less impossible," Barça coach Pep Guardiola said after the game on his side's task of catching Real Madrid.
In Germany, champions Borussia Dortmund extended their unbeaten run to a Bundesliga record of 25 games and moved a step closer to retaining their title after they won 2-1 at Schalke. "What we have done is unimaginable," Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp said. With nearest challengers Bayern Munich held to goalless draw at home with Mainz, Dortmund now lead by eight points with three games remaining, and could again lift the trophy by beating Borussia Monchengladbach at home next weekend.