Fans pay final respects to Puerta

THOUSANDS of people turned out in Seville to pay their final respects to Antonio Puerta, who died on Tuesday after collapsing on the pitch during last weekend’s Primera Liga match between Sevilla and Getafe.

The 22-year-old Sevilla wing-back suffered a cardiac arrest during the first half of Saturday’s game, and although he was able to walk off Puerta suffered a relapse in the dressing room and required cardiac resuscitation.

The Spain international was rushed to the Hospital Virgen del Rocio in Seville but passed away on Tuesday afternoon.

A crowd estimated to be around 20,000 packed the streets outside Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, where a funeral chapel had been set up so that people could pay their last respects to Puerta.

Among the mourners were scores of figures from the world of football, including Puerta’s Sevilla team-mates and players from local rivals Real Betis.

Tributes also continued to pour in for Puerta, whose girlfriend is pregnant, from clubs and players all over Spain. Valencia winger Joaquin Sanchez, who came up through the youth ranks at Betis, described Puerta as a “noble” person.

“I am hurt because we have lived with the hope that somehow he could get better, but that has not happened,” Joaquin said.

“I knew him and as a person, not only as a footballer, he was noble. These are very delicate and painful moments and, along with all my team-mates, we want to send our condolences to the family and to Sevilla.”

Spain international striker Fernando Torres, who swapped Atletico Madrid for Liverpool this summer, said: “Antonio, with whom I shared very good moments in the national team, showed everyone his great quality as a footballer and as a person, and leaves a void that is impossible to fill.”

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