Brighton midfielder Enock Mwepu has been forced to retire at the age of just 24 after he was diagnosed with a hereditary heart condition, the Premier League club announced on Monday.
The condition, which can worsen over time, would put him at an “extremely high risk of suffering a potentially fatal cardiac event if he were to continue playing competitive football”, the club said.
Enock was unwell during a flight to join up with Zambia during the international break last month and after a period in hospital in Mali he returned to Brighton to undergo further cardiac examinations.
“These tests have concluded that his illness is due to a hereditary cardiac condition, which manifests later in life and was not previously evident on regular cardiac screening,” the club said in a statement.
“Sadly this can be exacerbated by playing sport so Enock has been advised that the only option, for the sake of his own safety, is for him to stop playing football.”
Mwepu, who scored three goals in 27 appearances for the club, said on Twitter he had “lived his dream by reaching the Premier League”.
He added: “Some dreams however come to an end, so it is with sadness that I announce the need to hang up my boots because of the medical advice I have received.
“This is, however, not the end of my involvement with football. I plan to stay involved in some capacity.”
Brighton chairman Tony Bloom said: “We are all absolutely devastated for Enock. He and his family have had a traumatic few weeks and while we are just thankful he has come through that period, he has seen such a promising career cut short at such a young age.”
Manager Roberto De Zerbi, only appointed last month to replace Graham Potter, said: “I am so sorry for Enock.
“Before I arrived I looked at all the squad, and he was a player I was so excited and looking forward to working with. We will do everything we can to help him.”
Mwepu, who moved to the Premier League from Red Bull Salzburg last year, played his final match for Brighton in their 5-2 win against Leicester on September 4.
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