The 24-year-old fell ill while on a flight to link up with his Zambia team-mates in the international break last month; the condition is so severe that Mwepu would be extremely likely to suffer a cardiac arrest should he continue playing football
By Sam Blitz
Monday 10 October 2022 18:56, UK
Brighton midfielder Enock Mwepu has been forced to retire after being diagnosed with a hereditary heart condition.
The 24-year-old fell ill while on a flight to link up with his Zambia team-mates in the international break last month and returned to Brighton to undergo further cardiac tests after a period in hospital in Mali.
A statement from Brighton on Monday morning revealed that Mwepu would have an extremely high risk of suffering a “fatal cardiac arrest” should he continue playing competitive football.
In a statement announcing his retirement, Mwepu revealed he is still planning to remain in football in some capacity after cutting short his career.
“A small boy from a Zambian township called Chambishi has some news to share,” the midfielder wrote. “He stood strong to follow his dream of playing football at the highest level and by the grace of God he lived his dream by reaching the Premier League.
“Some dreams however come to an end, so it is with sadness that I announce the need to hang up by boots because of the medical advice I have received. This is not the end of my involvement in football, I plan to stay involved in some capacity.”
“We are all absolutely devastated for Enock,” said Brighton chairman Tony Bloom. “He and his family have had a traumatic few weeks and while we are just thankful he has come through that period, he has seen such a promising career cut short at such a young age.
“As a club we will give him all the love, help and support we possibly can to make a full recovery, and then as he decides on the next steps in his life.”
Mwepu featured in all six of Brighton’s Premier League games this season before the September international break and played 27 times for the club since joining from Red Bull Salzburg in July 2021. The midfielder also scored six goals in 23 appearances for the Zambian national team.
“I am so sorry for Enock,” Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi said. “Before I arrived I looked at all the squad, and he was a player I was so excited and looking forward to working with. We will do everything we can to help him.”
Former Brighton head coach Graham Potter speaking ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League clash with AC Milan:
“It’s really terrible. Thankfully it isn’t as terrible as it maybe could have been because I think he has been a little bit lucky, as much as he can be lucky, in terms of being alive and well, which is something we are all really thankful for.
“But, of course, at 24 years old, to not be able to play football just puts everything into perspective.
“I tried calling him today and sent him a message. He’s a fantastic person, so whatever he does in his life, he’ll succeed, but it’s a shame we won’t see him on the football pitch.”
Sue Smith speaking to Sky Sports News:
“As a player, you want to call time on your own career. You don’t want it to be through injury or a medical condition like this. You feel devastated for him, he’s 24 years of age with huge potential and Brighton think of him very highly. I’m sure they’ll support him and his family.
“There’s much more to football and you have to look at the bigger picture here. The positive is that this has been found before it could have been fatal. I’m really devastated for him and his family, to have a football career cut short must be so difficult for him to take. You hope that he stays in football or whatever he wants to do in the future.”
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Last week, Brentford announced a new partnership with several heart charities to try to improve cardiac health in the west London community.
Sky Sports News was invited to watch Bees winger Sergi Canos take part in a CPR training course. Brentford technical director Robert Rowan passed away at the age of 28 back in 2018 due to an undiagnosed heart condition.
The Premier League club also signed Christian Eriksen last season after the Danish midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during a Euro 2020 match against Finland last year.
“It was amazing to learn how to do it because if we have no medical team around us, it’s up to us,” Canos told Sky Sports News. “It was my first time [doing it] and it was nice.
“As many players and people we get together along with us, it would be great.”
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