Former Liverpool striker Besian Idrizaj has died of in his sleep at just 22 years of age.
Reports from his homeland of Austria suggested he had died of a heart attack, but his current club Swansea City say that the exact cause of his tragic death is yet to be confirmed.
The Swansea City website said: “Swansea City can confirm that the agent of young striker Besian Idrizaj has informed the club that the striker has sadly passed away.
“It is understood that the popular 22-year-old died in his sleep on Friday night while at home with his family in Austria.
“The exact cause of death has not been confirmed and our thoughts are with his family, friends and team-mates at this time.”
The Austrian forward became a Red in 2005 after being signed from LASK Linz, but was unfortunately unable to break into the first team during his three years at the club. After loans at Luton and Crystal Palace he returned to Austria for the remainder of his Liverpool contract on loan to Wacker Innsbruck.
It was whilst he was playing for Wacker in February 2008 that he collapsed on the field during a game, with fears that his career may have been over at twenty because of what was feared to be a heart condition.
However he recovered and was ultimately given the all-clear by doctors who said his collapse was the result of a virus. He was signed by Swansea City and considered the problems were now all in the past.
Speaking to the South Wales Evening Post shortly after his move to the Swans, Besian explained what he had been told about his collapse: “It was just a virus. It infected me badly and because of this I collapsed. I had the best doctors looking after me and I had all the tests, every one that you can have. There was nothing wrong with my heart.”
He also looked back on his time as a Red: “I really enjoyed myself there. I loved every second, but maybe I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have done. When you’re young you don’t really think about how big the club is. You never go home and think ‘I’m playing for a great team’.
He went on: “I had some really good chances to play in the first team at Liverpool and it was my fault I didn’t. I made mistakes but I don’t really want to speak about them. Swansea is my challenge now, but it would have been a dream to play in that team.
“Steven Gerrard is one of the top five players in the world, while I also looked up to people like Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia, you can always learn from these great players.”
And what most Liverpool fans will remember him for best of all was a pre-season friendly appearance against Wrexham: “In my last year I scored a hat-trick in a friendly, but then I realised I wasn’t going to play.”
He was clearly grateful to Swansea, and very much full of hope as he embarked on that next step in his career with Swansea at the start of the 2009-10 season: “When I didn’t have a club I was going to the gym every day and playing football with my friends as much as I could. I played five-a-side and sometimes tournaments at the weekend. Now I have this chance at Swansea and I am desperate to show everyone what I can do.”
Besian also said, very poignantly: “There have been ups and downs in my career but there are always going to be knocks in your life. When they come you always have to stand up again.”
Signed at the start of the season, Besian would go on to play four times four games for Swansea, including one League Cup appearance, as the Swans narrowly missed out on a play-off spot.
Swansea said they were waiting for more details from Austria before commenting further.
Liverpool said: “Everyone at Liverpool Football Club would like to pass on their condolences to Besian’s family and friends at this very sad time.”
Those thoughts are of course shared by Anfield Road, and we’re sure by all Liverpool supporters.
Rest in Peace. You’ll Never Walk Alone.