Mitchell Cole: Ex-Footballer Dies Aged 27

Mitchell Cole: Ex-Footballer Dies Aged 27

A 27-year-old footballer, who was forced to retire as a professional player after a heart attack, has died.

Mitchell Cole, who played for Oxford United and Stevenage, was told last year he would be risking death if he played the sport again.

Writing on its official Twitter feed, the Football League said: "We are sad to hear former Southend, Stevenage and Oxford player Mitchell Cole has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

Cole, who was married to the sister of England international Joe Cole, started his career at West Ham but was released in 2004.

He scored for Stevenage against Kidderminster at Wembley in the 2007 FA Trophy Final.

In an interview with The Sun he said: "A few players around the world die of this every year. The specialists told me that every day I have a 1% chance of dropping dead and sport quadruples that risk.

"When he gave me the numbers and showed me images of my heart, it hit me hard."

Despite retiring from the professional game last year, Cole did make a handful of non-league appearances, some of which came for Arlesey Town.

However, according to their director of football, Gary King, watching Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffer a cardiac arrest in an FA Cup tie with Tottenham in March convinced Cole to give up the game for good.

King said: "We were watching that game in the clubhouse and he turned to me and said 'I'm not playing again', although I'm told he might have been playing five-a-side in London last night."

On Friday on his @mitchcole21 Twitter account Cole wrote: "London tonight for the usual kick about with the lads."

He suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which is an irregular thickness of the heart in certain areas.

Cole's former clubs were among the first to pay tribute, with West Ham posting on their official Twitter feed: "Everyone at West Ham United has been saddened to learn of the death of former Hammers Academy player Mitchell Cole at the age of 27. RIP."

Stevenage added on their official account: "The club are saddened to hear of the passing of former player Mitchell Cole. Our thoughts are with his family at this time."

Southend United said they were "extremely saddened" to hear the news, while Oxford United tweeted: "Our thoughts are with the family of Mitchell Cole."

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