FORMER Arlesey Town footballer Mitchell Cole who suffered with a serious heart condition has died.
Mitchell, 27, who lived in Stotfold with wife Charly and two young children, gave up playing the sport in March just two days after watching Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapse during a game suffering from the same heart defect, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
He is said to have died suddenly on Saturday.
In an interview with Bedfordshire on Sunday earlier this year, Mitchell said: “When I saw Fabrice collapse, it made me realise how silly it was to still be playing.
“I first found out I had the condition at 16 and didn’t want to leave football, but that decision as a young single lad is different to the one I’ve made now because I have a family to think about.”
Mitchell, who also played for the England C team at non-league level, Stevenage FC and Hitchin Town, discovered his heart problem in 2003, just after signing his first professional contract with West Ham United.
He last played for Arlesey Town in the Evo-Stick Southern League premier division and the club confirmed on Twitter: “We have just been informed of the sad news that Mitchell Cole passed away last night the thoughts of everyone at Arlesey are with his family.”
A memorial match for the former Stevenage winger is to be played at The Lamex in May.
Stevenage FC chairman Phil Wallace is contacting a host of former players and management to invite them to play in a benefit game for Mitchell’s family.
Mr Wallace said “It’s such a sad, tragic loss of a young life. Mitch was a key figure for us in the seasons that saw us enjoy a lot of success.
“We all knew of his condition, but it’s simply devastating that a young man with such spirit is taken from us so suddenly.”