Wednesday, December 27, 2006

First Brazilian player in Macedonia dies of heart attack

SKOPJE, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Ricardo da Costa Oliveira, the first Brazilian-born player to play in the Macedonian League, has died of a heart attack at the age of 30, his club Skendija Tetovo said on Thursday.

He was found unconscious and taken to hospital by a Brazilian friend, Aginaldo de Jesus Braga, who plays for Vardar Skopye.

"I found Oliveira unconscious in the bathroom and I immediately brought him to hospital," said Braga. "But it was too late."

Oliveira, who recently obtained Macedonian citizenship, scored 77 goals in the domestic championship but had not played this season because of a knee injury.

"I'm shocked," said former Macedonia coach Gyoko Hadzievski. "He was a very good footballer -- it was a pleasure to watch him play."

Oliveira moved to Macedonia in 1997 with Pobeda Prilep and also played for Rabotnichki Skopye and Vardar Skopye. He spent six months on loan with Antwerp in Belgium before settling in the Balkan country.

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