Former East Bengal and Mohun Bagan Athletic Club defender R Dhanarajan collapsed and died on Sunday night while playing a 'Sevens' football match at Perinthalmanna in Malappuram district.
The 39-year-old player collapsed during a football match of the All India Sevens Football Tournament at Perinthalmanna. Dhanrajan was part of the Perinthalmanna football club and was playing against Sastha Medicals Thrissur.
The incident took place at Perinthalmanna Nehru Stadium at 9 pm, according to reports. As the first half of the football match came towards an end, Dhanrajan had requested the referee to stop the game for a few minutes, said the organisers.
Dhanrajan had complained of chest pain and then collapsed on the ground. A medical team, which was on standby, rushed him to the nearest hospital. However, he died within a few minutes after reaching the hospital, said Abdul Azeez, one of the organisers.
His body was then taken to the Manjeri Medical College for postmortem examination.
Dhanrajan had been part of the Sevens tournament for the past seven years and had earlier played for Kerala in the Santosh Trophy tournament. Apart from playing for big-name clubs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Viva Kerala and Chirag United, Dhanrajan was briefly captain for the Mohammedans Football Club in the Federation Cup held at Manjeri in 2014.
A native of Kottekkad in Palakkad, Dhanrajan is the son of late Radhakrishnan and Mari. He is survived by his wife Archana and daughter Sivani.
Fondly referred to as "Dhana" on the field, Dhanrajan began his career playing football in division clubs and got picked by Mohan Bagan Football Club in 2010. The defender had made 10 appearances in the I-League division matches while being captain for the Mohammedan FC
The New Indian Express reported that several allegations were levelled against the tournament organisers and the football club for failing to ensure that the players are medically fit. Abdul Azeez also claimed that the organisers had arranged for doctors at the venue and that the football ground was barely 200 m away from the hospital.
Condolences and tributes for the footballer poured in from across the country.