O'Donnell died of heart failure post mortem confirms

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The Independent Football

Phil O'Donnell died of heart failure, a post mortem has confirmed. The Motherwell player, 35, collapsed and died as he was substituted during his side's 5-3 defeat of Dundee United at Fir Park on Saturday. Robert Liddle, the club doctor, said: "The post-mortem revealed that Phil had suffered left ventricular failure of the heart."

The player's funeral service will take place in Hamilton at noon on Friday. The requiem mass, in St Mary's Church, Cadzow Street, will be followed by burial at the nearby Bent Cemetery.

Speaking publicly for the first time since he died, O'Donnell's widow, Eileen, said her husband had achieved much in football but "the most important thing for him was his family".

Mrs O'Donnell, mother of the couple's four children, said: "He would like to be remembered as a family man and we were all so proud of him. We are all devastated by what has happened.

"We hope we will now be given peace and time to grieve but we are overwhelmed by the messages of support we have received."

Yesterday's Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic, O'Donnell's former club, was postponed as a mark of respect.

Celtic defender Gary Caldwell has called for research into the effects of food supplements and energy drinks followingO'Donnell's death.

A distraught Caldwell questioned the way footballers are asked to re-fuel before and after games. "I have thought about it. You drink energy drinks, you take supplements and you do it to become a better player," he said.

"But I think somebody has got to look into it and try to see if it does affect you."