Scottish footballer Phil O'Donnell collapses during game and dies

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Scottish football player Phil O'Donnell has died today after collapsing during a game in which his team Motherwell F.C., of which he was captain, were playing Dundee United in a Scottish Premier League match.

O'Donnell collapsed as his substitution for Marc Fitzpatrick was being arranged. He received treatment for around five minutes before being stretchered off and transferred to a waiting ambulance. David Clarkson, O'Donnell's nephew, was also playing at the time and had scored twice but was taken off due to being visibly distressed by O'Donnel's collapse.

Medics from both teams believed he had suffered a seizure. Attempts were made in the ambulance to revive him, but these failed and he was pronounced dead at 17:18 GMT, having been taken to Wishaw General Hospital.

Born on March 25, 1972 O'Donnell made his debut for Motherwell in 1990, and scored the following year in the final of the Scottish Cup, which Motherwell defeated Dundee United 4-3 in. In 1993 he earned his only international cap for Scotland as a substitute in a World Cup qualification match against Switzerland.

The following year he was bought by Celtic for £1.75 million ($3.5 million). He stayed with them for five years, after which he was transferred to Sheffield Wednesday. A high number of injuries caused Sheffield Wednesday to release him after four years, and the next year, 2004, then Motherwell manager Terry Butcher awarded him an 18-month contract. In 2006 he was appointed captain, and in April the following year, upon the expiration of his original contract, signed a new one as a player-coach.

Motherwell chairman Bill Dickie said "Unfortunately I can confirm very, very sad news that Phil O'Donnell has lost his life. We don't know what it was, but there will be a post-mortem. This is a tragic happening and that's all I can say."

Motherwell owner John Boyle told the press "Everyone at Motherwell is shocked to the core, and we are sure that everyone involved in Scottish football will feel the same. Phil was not only an inspirational player for Motherwell and club captain, but was an inspirational person. All of us at Motherwell are thinking of his wife Eileen and their four children."

Mark McGhee, manager of the team, said "I don't want to say anything more than how devastated everyone at the club is for his wife and his young children. That's what we are all feeling tonight, nothing else matters. Obviously from the club's point of view, we'll gather round to give his family as much support as they need."

In a press conference given at the hospital, Motherwell chief executive Ian Stillie said "The management, directors, players and fans are all stunned and having great difficulty in comprehending what has happened over the last few hours. At this stage we do not have all the facts surrounding the tragic death of Phil O'Donnell. We have been in contact with Phil's wife Eileen and his family and they have given us their blessing to speak to the media tonight. Phil collapsed during the second half of the game today. He was standing alone at the time. He was immediately attended to by Motherwell's club doctor and assisted by Dundee United's club doctor. He was transferred almost immediately to an awaiting ambulance and taken to Wishaw General. It is believed Phil suffered some form of seizure and was pronounced dead at 1718."

Gordon Smith, Scottish Football Association chief executive, told reporters "This is absolutely devastating news. Phil was not just a wonderful footballer, he was a great human being. My thoughts are with his family at this tragic time." Meanwhile, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said "When the news came through, everyone at the club was obviously shocked. Our thoughts are with his family to whom we offer extreme condolences for a tragic loss of a young life. Everyone at Celtic Park will mourn him."


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