Former Newcastle Jet Zenon Caravella says he is still in shock after his former teammate Bernardo Ribeiro, 26, died from a heart attack while playing a friendly club match for Friburguense Atletico in Brazil.
Caravella was at the Jets with Ribeiro during the 2012-2013 A-League season when the Brazilian midfielder played eight games and scored one goal for the Novocastrians.
Caravella, who retired from football after playing the 2014-15 season with Newcastle, says that he forged a bond with the former Flamengo junior that continued after Ribeiro left the club.
“It’s a massive shock to hear what happened,” the 32-year-old said.
“It’s very sad, he’s very young and he was a lovely guy, a really nice guy, so it’s very, very sad.
“I came halfway through the season and I spent a good six months with him there. He spoke Italian and I spoke Italian. It was a good friendship. It was only very short but he was someone I kept in touch with and it’s just very sad. It’s terrible.”
“You don’t expect this to happen to people who are fit and playing sport. It’s important that people do get their heart checked because you are putting it under that much strain when you are playing. If there is something wrong, then that physical exercise can contribute and make it worse.”
Over the weekend Ribeiro, was the second footballer to die by a heart attack.
Sadly, Patrick Ekeng, 26 died after also collapsing on the field while playing for Romanian club Dinamo Bucharest.
Andy Paschalidis, the founder of the Heartbeat of Football, a foundation that is raising awareness to provide potential lifesaving defibrillators on sporting fields around the country says that answers regarding Ekeng’s passing are needed.
“I saw the footage of Patrick Ekeng playing - and for me the fact that there were questions being asked about the medical response - whether there was a defibrillator on the Ambulance or not - they are the questions I really want people to address,” he said.
“You only have to look at the A-League. An A-League game cannot go ahead without a defibrillator and the right medics there at the ground full stop. In terms of young Ribeiro that is another tragedy.”
Caravella also agreed with Paschalidis regarding the way that professional footballers in Australia well-being is managed.
“The A-League is very professional,” he said “You’ve got club doctors, you’ve got everything you need. Every club that I’ve been to will have lots of medical checks and things like that.
“And we lead the way and I think we are in a great spot when it comes to player welfare. They are even cancelling games or delaying games when it’s too hot and that is a great sign
“Players need to come first; the health of players need to come first no matter what.”
Defibrillators can increase the survival chances of up to 70 per cent in the event of a cardiac event and Paschalidis says that a global response is needed to combat what unfortunately is becoming a more common occurrence.
“So many incidents are happening not just here but abroad,” he said. “From a domestic front we need a collaborative effort and I get the sense that that is not far away. I want the playing fields of football and sport in general to be as safe as possible - to have guidelines there.
“But on a global perspective what an opportunity for the new head of FIFA to come up with a nice community model to support the families affected by the players that have been lost, because unfortunately there is not really a great support network for those people.”
Andy Paschalidis will officially launch his Heartbeat of Football Foundation on Friday, June 3, 2016 in Sydney and Monday, June 6 2016 in Melbourne.
For more details, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or go their Facebook page or contact 0412184048
- Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.