Emanuel Ortega, 21, was playing for San Martín de Burzaco in Argentina’s fifth tier when he challenged for the ball by the touchline. He lost his balance in the physical battle and crashed head first into a concrete wall that separated the crowd from the pitch.
Despite receiving immediate medical treatment and being rushed to hospital, Ortega died early on Thursday morning – nearly two weeks after sustaining the double skull fracture – after surgery couldn’t save the midfielder.
On the day of the incident, San Martín manager Critstian Ferlauto expressed his concern for Ortega:
“He has a serious trauma to the skull and there is a worrying amount of blood.”
Ferlauto also absolved the Juventud Unida player for his part in the incident, assuring that “there was no intent,” but he strongly questioned the safety of having a wall so close to the sideline.
“The wall is just a metre from the line. It’s crazy, there’s no protection. The security measures are taken thinking about the fans, and the fence is so high so that they can’t throw stones, but somethings are more important.
“It’s a disgrace.”
A heartbreaking Facebook post has since emerged, written by the player in 2012, where he reveals that football was his life:
“Perhaps I won’t ever play football professionally,” he wrote. “Maybe I will, or maybe as an amateur, but when I go for each ball I am going to die, when my legs say STOP, my heart says CONTINUE.
“The difference between me and professionals is that when my boots break, I don’t change them, I spent all night tidying them up and gluing them back together so I can play again because it is what I love.
“Football is my LIFE, not only a past-time, it is what makes me forget everything else, and I will give my life for it.
“The day that I can’t play anymore, that is where my life ends.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFac19yllqY