Tragedy as former Stoke keeper Matija Sarkic dies at 26

Stoke City goalkeeper Matija Sarkic celebrates Josh Laurent's equaliser at Swansea
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Goalkeeper Matija Sarkic has died this morning at the age of 26.

The Millwall goalkeeper, who starred on loan at Stoke City just last year, had only won plaudits for his performance in an international match against Belgium on June 5. Reports in Montenegro say he was in an apartment in Budva when he suddenly became unwell.

A statement from Millwall said: "Millwall Football Club is completely devastated to announce that Matija Sarkic has passed away at the age of 26.

"Sarkic, The Lions' number one goalkeeper, made 33 appearances for the club since joining from Wolverhampton Wanderers in August 2023. A Montenegro international, Matija proudly represented his country on numerous occasions.

"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."

Sarkic joined Villa’s academy from Anderlecht as a teenager and had loans with clubs including Wigan and Livingston as part of his development. He was offered a new contract in 2020 but moved to Wolves where he saw a clearer pathway to the first team.

He excelled in loans with Shrewsbury, Birmingham and Stoke City despite injuries. At Birmingham he was voted player of the year in 2022 despite dislocating a shoulder in January. He was finding his feet at Stoke under Alex Neil in March 2023 when he suffered a quad problem during a 5-1 win at Sunderland and wouldn't play again until the final day of the season.

A permanent move to Stoke fell through in the summer of 2023 and instead he moved to Millwall, where he played a key role in their pull to Championship survival.

Leave your tributes below