Footballer who suffered heart attack had medical clearance

Following sudden death of Nigerian striker Basil Chibueze, football association chief doctor reassures that tests carried out on players are adequate

Basil Chibuzor Chibueze
Basil Chibuzor Chibueze

Basil Chibueze, Marsa’s 24-year old striker who died suddenly on Monday, had the medical clearance in place, sister newspaper Illum reports.

However, he was also expected to undergo another medical test within a couple of months.

Malta Football Association regulations stipulate that every player must undergo an electrocardiogram (ECG) test every two years.

The ECG records the electrical activity of the heart, and is usually the first test done to determine whether a person suffers from a heart disease.

Asked whether it was safer to carry out the tests annually, MFA’s medic Dr David Attard said it was the football clubs who opted for a two-year term, partly also due to the expenses involved.

Several players who spoke with the newspaper expressed their concern about the medical test, describing the ECG as “basic”, “inaccurate” and one that only evaluates the heart’s state at that particular time.

But the MFA’s medic rebutted these allegations, saying that the test is widely used in Europe.

“There’s no screening which is perfect, and like other tests the ECG may not always pick everything. But a normal ECG has 85% rate of pinpointing heart problems. Even though it is a ‘basic’ screening, patients who are found with certain problems are then requested to undergo much more detailed tests,” Dr Attard told Illum.

Carlo Mamo, an experienced Premier Division player and secretary general of the Malta Football Players Association (MFPA), concurred that despite all the research it seems there’s no solution to certain circumstances.

“In other countries such as England, tests are carried out more frequently and detailed, yet this did not prevent similar incidents from taking place,” Mamo said.

Basil Chibueze was taken ill while jogging on Monday evening. He was admitted to Mater Dei Hospital but died shortly afterwards. He was Marsa’s top scorer in the last season, scoring 10 goals from 24 appearances.

His brother, Ikechukwu also played as a footballer with local sides before passing away suddenly at the age of 23 in 2007.

Read more in today’s issue of Illum.