|Motherwell fans gather at Fir Park stadium to pay tribute to club captain Phil O’Donnell
Motherwell’s next two Scottish Premier League matches have been postponed following the death of captain Phil O’Donnell.
Motherwell was set to play Hibernian on Wednesday and Celtic next weekend but the games were called off Sunday, a day after the 35-year-old midfielder died after collapsing during a match.
“The players, the supporters, every one inside the executive are devastated and absolutely dumbfounded by the event of Phil’s death,” manager Mark McGhee said.
“We had a meeting this morning with the players and obviously they have taken it very, very badly and we are going to have to help them through that.”
O’Donnell, who started his career at Motherwell before stints with Celtic and Sheffield Wednesday, was about to be substituted at Fir Park against Dundee United but collapsed before he could leave the field.
He was treated on the field for about five minutes and carried from the field on a stretcher to be taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, but the club later announced his death.
O’Donnell’s nephew David Clarkson, who had scored twice for Motherwell in a 5-3 win that strengthened its hold on third place, was substituted a few moments later because he was upset by the incident.
“His performance yesterday was the best of the season,” McGhee said.
“There were times in the game when he looked across at us and smiled and shook his head because he was in awe of what was going on around him, the football that was being played and the attitude of the young players around him.
“I think he was proud to be part of that and I think they, as we said to them, should be proud to have provided him with that and to perform the way they did.”
Motherwell has said O’Donnell had suffered a seizure, but that more detail would be available after a post-mortem.
Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe collapsed and died at the 2003 Confederations Cup in France, prompting FIFA to demand a general medical checkup and thorough cardiovascular tests on all players ahead of last year’s World Cup in Germany.
Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta died in August following his collapse on the field during a Spanish league match, dying from a weakness of the right ventricle.
Hapoel Beersheba striker Chaswe Nsofwa died of heart failure while training in Israel the same month, and a player from lowly English side Walsall, 16-year-old Anton Reid, died after collapsing in training, also in August.