Zambian youngster Enock Mwepu has been forced to retire from playing football after a diagnosis of a hereditary heart condition.
This was confirmed by his club Brighton and Hove Albion in a statement shared on its communication platforms and the player himself.
Brighton chairman Tony Bloom said on the club website, “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.
“As a club we will give him all the love, help and support we possibly can to make a full recovery, and then as he decides on the next steps in his life.”
Brighton coach Roberto De Zerbi added, “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.”
Head of Medicine and Performance at Brighton, Adam Brett explained, “It is a terrible blow for Enock, but he has to put his health and his family first and this is the right choice, however difficult it is to quit the game he loves.”
Statement on the Brighton website
Mwepu fell ill while on a flight to join up with Zambia during the international break and after a period in hospital in Mali he returned to Brighton to undergo further cardiac tests and ongoing care.
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. 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.
Adam continued, “Of course, given this is Enock’s career and a decision which can’t be taken lightly we have taken our time to be as thorough as possible, completed advanced cardiac investigations and collaborated with clinical experts to gain the best second opinions for Enock.
“We will be helping him make sure the condition is managed with the appropriate treatment for him to otherwise live a long and healthy life.’”
The condition, which can worsen over time, would put Enock at an extremely high risk of suffering a potentially fatal cardiac event, if he were to continue playing competitive football.