Former Sydney FC starlet Chris Naumoff has been forced into retirement at the age of 21 due to a genetic heart condition.
Less than a fortnight ago, Naumoff had penned a three year deal with spanish outfit C.D. Numancia.
However, Numancia released a statement confirming that the club had opted not to sign Naumoff on 'medical reasons', noting it was a 'tough decision'.
Naumoff has confirmed his retirement in a letter and went into detail about the condition that has ended his career:
To my family, friends and fans I would like to take this opportunity to explain the current situation regarding my professional football career. As some of you may be aware I was fortunate enough to have signed a 3 year deal with C.D. Numancia in Spain, for me a dream come true.
During the mandatory medical assessment under taken by C.D. Numancia it was found that there was an abnormality of my heart. Apart from this finding there is no issue with my health and fitness. After two follow up examinations from professional football related cardiologists in Madrid, and a final consultation with Professor Christopher Semsarian in Sydney the condition was confirmed as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a genetic condition which involves thickening of the interior heart wall and introduces a risk of sudden cardiac arrest, in particular for professional athletes during activity.
How long this condition has affected me is unknown, and how this condition was not discovered during my time as a professional in Australia is a question for another day.
As a result of these findings, in conjunction with the risks that come with the condition, the history of players with this condition, recommendations from the cardiac professionals and the international rules of the game, it is with great sadness that I announce my retirement from professional football.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank first and foremost C.D. Numancia for finding this condition, their hospitality during this period was overwhelming. I would like to thank Sydney FC for providing me the opportunity to start my professional career, also thank you to all my junior clubs in which I spent time with prior to my professional career.
In particular I would like to express special thanks to my immediate family and agent Miquel Riera for helping me through this difficult time.
For me I am grateful that this condition was found before any fatality.
I encourage all professional or amateur football clubs and individuals to take out these tests to ensure all players can play the game risk free of potential fatality. The two simple but effective tests to diagnose this condition are an Electrocardiogram (ECG) and a Echocardiogram (Echo).
I intend to stay involved with the game of football in one way or another, and hope my example can change the lives of athletes and set a precedent to better testing and awareness for the future and the wellbeing of all athletes.
Christopher KIKI Naumoff
PFA Chief Executive John Didulica said the players’ association would continue to support Chris in what has been extremely difficult circumstances for the Olyroo.
“Chris is one of Australia’s brightest talents and it is devastating to hear that his career has been cut short,” said Didulica.
“On and off the pitch he is hugely respected and admired by his peers and all in the Australian football community.
“This case highlights the precarious nature of professional sport and its inherent risks.
“Thankfully, the medical condition has been identified and the PFA will continue to work with Chris and his family to ensure he receives the best possible medical advice and support.”