Swansea striker Idrizaj dies at 22

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The Independent Football

Swansea City striker Besian Idrizaj has died suddenly aged just 22. The former Liverpool starlet, who had a history of heart problems, was found dead in his sleep at his parents' house in the Austrian city of Linz on Friday night.

His brother Qerim said: "Besian is dead. That is all I can say at the moment."

A statement from the Swans read: "Swansea can confirm that the agent of Besian Idrizaj has informed the club that the striker has sadly passed away. The exact cause of death has not been confirmed and our thoughts are with his family, friends and team-mates."

Idrizaj, who joined Liverpool in 2005 after being named Austria's young player of the year and later had loan spells with Crystal Palace and Luton, had a history of collapsing during matches. In February 2008, he lay unconscious on the pitch for several minutes in an Austrian league match and spent a month out of the game.

The problem was later diagnosed as a virus but the Austrian Under-21 forward was also sent to hospital after a trial match with his old club LASK Linz in November 2008.

Idrizaj, of Albanian descent, joined the Swans on a two-year deal in August last year and made four appearances. His final outing for the Championship side came in the 1-0 win against Plymouth at the Liberty Stadium in December.

Over the years a number of top players have suffered from serious heart problems. The former Manchester City star Marc-Vivien Foe died while playing for Cameroon in 2003 and the French World Cup veteran Lilian Thuram retired in 2008 with a heart condition.

Meanwhile, Stoke manager Tony Pulis says he will never jeopardise City's future by spending money the club cannot afford. The no-nonsense Welshman ended Stoke's 23-year wait for top-flight status by winning promotion in 2008 and has steered them to finish a highly creditable 12th and 11th in their two seasons among the elite.

"We have got to work this close-season probably harder than we've worked before," Pulis said. "I never in a million years want this football club to be in the same state some other football clubs [are] financially, where they are hanging by a piece of string. We have to balance incomings and outgoings and we have to do it well."

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