Naoki Matsuda, one the heroic cornerstones of Japan’s 2002 World Cup Team died last night from a heart attack he sustained during training. Matsuda was 34.
He was among Japan’s most noted players, and he did not regained consciousness after collapsing Tuesday in the mountainous region of Matsumoto, northwest of Tokyo. His teammates and the medical staff of Matsumoto Yamaga, whom he had played for years, tried to save him and suspected heatstroke because extreme high temperatures have claimed 43 lives in Japan this summer. Specialists who were treating him have confirmed that a heart attack was what caused Matsuda’s sudden death.
By all accounts medical staff did everything right, and he was tended too as soon as he collapsed by club doctors, then rushed to hospital with the hour. He was treated with a portable defibrillator and oxygen, but in the end it seems nothing could save him. Its a sad fact that these deaths have become all too common in the modern game, and it stands as one of the greatest paradoxes of sport that they often happen to the best cared for athletes in the world. Its rumored that Matsuda had a congenital heart defect, the same sort of defect that has laid many others low during matches, or ended careers. The fact that he was tested for these defects and passed isn’t all that surprising as they can often go undetected in players who are already fit, and not checked as children.
Hopefully, with the greater screening measures now being undertaken at a youth level these tragedies will soon be a thing of the past, but for the time being, we can only wait and hope that they’re will be no more Naoki Matsudas.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
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