Espanyol skipper Dani Jarque dies of heart attack

MADRID: The skipper of Spanish top flight side Espanyol, Dani Jarque, has died from a heart attack while on a pre-season training camp in Italy.

The 26-year-old Jarque died at the hotel where the team were staying in the town of Coviciana.

He was discovered in his room after teammates realised he had not appeared for a meal.

The club said that team doctors as well as Italian paramedics tried to revive the midfielder but without success.

The tragedy comes just two years after the death, also from heart failure, of Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta, who died aged 22 after having collapsed during the opening game of the Spanish La Liga season.

Espanyol confirmed the diagnosis of heart failure and said the club doctor's attempts to revive the player had failed.

"It was a heart attack," said club official German de la Cruz.

"He was talking to his girlfriend when he suddenly began to feel unwell. He told her and then stopped talking. His partner got in touch with the hotel and explained what had happened but it was too late to do anything," de la Cruz told La Sexta television.

Jarque had played for Espanyol since the 2002-2003 season.

In the last campaign, he featured in 36 league matches and scored two goals. He was also a member of the team which won the Spanish Cup in 2006 and who were UEFA Cup runners-up in 2007.

European champions Barcelona, who are Espanyol's city rivals, sent their condolences to the Jarque's family from their American tour base in San Francisco.

Barca president Joan Laporta told "We are filled with extreme sadness at this tragic event and tonight we are in mourning.

"On behalf of Barcelona, we want to send our deepest sympathies to Espanyol for the painful loss of their captain Dani Jarque, and to his family."

A minute's silence was observed at the start of the second half of a pre-season friendly at the Mestella Stadium where Valencia were taking on English side Arsenal.

Players from both sides also wore black armbands.

Real Madrid as well as the Spanish football federation sent their condolences to Jarque's family.