A young footballer who died after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest during a match was “much-loved” and “talented”, his head teacher has said.
Dylan Rich collapsed during an FA Youth Cup game between West Bridgford Colts and Boston United in Nottinghamshire.
He is then thought to have had a second cardiac arrest while on his way to hospital in an ambulance on Thursday.
The 17-year-old, who went to The West Bridgford School, died on Sunday.
“We are a school in mourning,” head teacher Tim Peacock said.
“We have a lost a wonderful, much-loved, talented member of our community. This loss will be felt deeply by many people.
“At the moment our focus is on supporting his family, friends, classmates and teachers through this difficult time.”
The football match was at the West Bridgford Colts ground in Regatta Way.
East Midlands Ambulance Service said they received a call at 19:50 BST on Thursday. Dylan was treated with a defibrillator at the ground before paramedics arrived, and he was then taken to the Queen’s Medical Centre.
Peter Stansbury, chairman of West Bridgford Colts, said Dylan had been at the club since he was six years old, adding Dylan’s sister Lucy also played, and his father Mike coached.
“It is an extra tragedy for the club that such a great lad and such a lovely family have had this dreadful thing happen to them,” Mr Stansbury said.
“It was a great opportunity for our players to play in a national competition and tragedy struck two or three minutes into the game when Dylan Rich collapsed on the pitch.
“Our hearts go out to the parents because I’m a father-of-three and the idea of this happening is just truly tragic.”
He said coaches and officials from the club were very quick to get their defibrillator to the scene, and the ambulance arrived within 10 minutes.
In a statement, the club said the Regatta Way ground would be open during certain times this week to anyone who wants to leave a pitchside tribute in Dylan’s memory.
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Dozens of football clubs have paid tribute to the teenager on Twitter, including Nottingham Forest and Notts County.
The Football Association (FA) also released a statement saying everyone was “deeply saddened by the tragic news” of Dylan’s death.
“We send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and everybody at the club at this very difficult time,” the statement said.
The charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) said 12 fit and healthy young people die of undiagnosed cardiac conditions in the UK every week.
“These are one of the most common causes of death in young people,” Dr Steven Cox, chairman of the charity, said.
“In 80% of tragedies there are no prior symptoms whatsoever, so the first time anyone becomes aware that there’s a cardiac problem is when someone collapses and has a cardiac arrest.”
Several professional footballers have had on-pitch cardiac arrests, including Christian Eriksen in the opening week of Euro 2020, and Fabrice Muamba, whose heart stopped for 78 minutes. Marc-Vivien Foe died while playing for Cameroon aged 28, and former England and Aston Villa defender Ugo Ehiogu died in 2017 aged 44.
CRY said that while sport is generally good for the heart and reduces the risk of death from a cardiac problem for most people, sport increases the risk of sudden death in an individual who has a cardiac condition.
“The key thing from CRY’s perspective is that every fit and healthy young person from the age of 14 has the opportunity to have cardiac screening, with at least an ECG,” said Mr Cox.
“Through that we can prevent 89% of young sudden cardiac deaths, through identifying the conditions and treating them with medication, lifestyle modifications, but sometimes corrective surgery.”
People are entitled to be screened on the NHS if there has been a young (under 35) sudden cardiac death in their family.