A professional soccer player in South Africa died on Tuesday after collapsing during a morning training session, the Richards Bay Football Club said in a statement.
The club, which runs the KwaZulu-Natal soccer team where the athlete played for the last three years, announced his death in a message shared to Twitter on Tuesday. Siphamandla "Spepe" Mtolo was a midfielder for the team, which competed in the South African Premiere Division, the country's top soccer league.
"It is with deep sadness to announce that Richards Bay Football Club has untimely lost one of the midfielder, Siphamandla 'Spepe' Mtolo," the Richards Bay Football Club said in the announcement. "He collapsed this morning during training. The club is not in a position to provide further information at this stage and ask that his family's privacy is respected in this difficult time of bereavement."
"His presence both on and off the pitch will be solely [sic] missed," the club wrote. "Thoughts and prayers of everyone in Richards Bay Football Club are with his family, friends and loved ones."
Responding to the news of Mtolo's death, South Africa's Premier Soccer League said moments of silence will be observed at upcoming tournaments this week in his honor.
"The PSL is deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Richards Bay Football Club midfielder, Siphamandla Mtolo," the league wrote in a tweet. "A moment of silence will be observed in his honour at this week's Nedbank Cup and DStv Diski Challenge fixtures. May his soul repose peacefully."
The South African Football Association also acknowledged Mtolo's sudden death in a statement shared online.
"The South African Football Association (SAFA) has offered some words of comfort and sympathy to the family of Richards Bay midfielder Siphamandla Mtolo after the midfielder's passing on Tuesday," the organization said, noting Mtolo's three-year tenure with the KwaZulu-Natal team and previous contract with Uthongathi FC, another professional soccer team.
"We as the South African Football Association would like to convey our sincerest condolences, deepest sympathy and heartfelt sorrow to his family, friends and the club during this difficult time," the statement continued. "May his soul rest peace."
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