Millwall goalkeeper Matija Sarkic dies at 26 after 'falling ill' in Montenegro apartment

Matija Sarkic of Millwall
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

Millwall Football Club and Montenegro goalkeeper Matija Sarkic has died. The 26-year-old fell ill at a flat in the Montenegrin town of Budva this morning (Saturday, June 15).

The exact cause of his death is yet to be announced. In a statement, Millwall FC said: “Millwall Football Club is completely devastated to announce that Matija Sarkic has passed away at the age of 26.

“Everyone at the club sends their love and condolences to Matija’s family and friends at this immensely sad time. The club will make no further comment at this time and asks that the privacy of Matija’s family is respected.”

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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JUNE 5: goalkeeper Matija Sarkic of Montenegro looks on during the International Friendly match between Belgium and Montenegro at King Baudouin Stadium on June 5, 2024 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Matija Sarkic playing against Belgium earlier this month -Credit:Getty

Born in Grimsby, Sarkic began his career in Belgium-side Anderlecht’s academy before joining Birmingham-based Aston Villa in 2015. He then had loan spells at Wigan, Stratford, Havant and Waterlooville and Livingston and moved to Wolves in 2020.

He played 60 games on loan at Shrewsbury, Birmingham and Stoke before joining the south London side last August, where he made 33 appearances. He also made his Montenegro debut against Belarus in 2019 and was on international duty last week for a friendly against Belgium.

'Sudden death'

The Montenegro Football Association said in a statement that Sarkic had “died suddenly” on Saturday morning. “A beloved member of the ‘Brave Falcons’, an eternally smiling guy, played for our “A” selection in nine games, in which he showed how much he means to this team,” the statement added.

“Together with his twin brother Oliver, he passed all the junior categories of the Montenegrin national team. In the jersey of that iconic London club (Millwall), he left his mark, which was yet to become part of a bigger and more beautiful story.

“Premature death stopped that and caused great pain to the Sarkic family. The Football Association of Montenegro expresses its sincere condolences to the Sarkic family.”

Tributes were also paid by Sarkic’s former clubs with Villa saying on X: “Everyone at Aston Villa is deeply saddened by news of the passing of our former goalkeeper Matija Sarkic. Matija joined our Academy in 2015 and spent five years with the club, during which time he made his full international debut for Montenegro, before departing in the summer of 2020. The thoughts and condolences of all at the club are with his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.”

Birmingham, where Sarkic made 23 appearances on loan during the 2021-22 season, said on X: “Everyone at Birmingham City is shocked and saddened to learn of the news that our former goalkeeper, Matija Sarkic, has passed away at the age of 26. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and all those that knew him.”

Tribute from the FA

The Football Association added: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Millwall goalkeeper Matija Sarkic. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends, as well as everybody at the club and the Montenegro national team at this very sad time.”

Stoke, the Professional Footballers’ Association and the English Football League also offered their condolences to Sarkic’s family and friends.

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