Brighton & Hove Albion have announced that midfielder Enock Mwepu has been forced to retire from football following the discovery of a hereditary heart condition.
The 24-year-old, who was the captain of Zambia’s national team, is a popular figure on the south coast and had made 27 appearances for the Seagulls – including six already this season – since his move from Red Bull Salzburg last summer.
But Brighton confirmed on Monday morning that Mwepu’s career has come to a sad end.
“Enock Mwepu has been forced to end his playing career following the diagnosis of a hereditary heart condition,” Brighton said in a statement.
“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.”
“Enock was taken 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.”
Brighton chairman Tony Bloom said: “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.”
New head 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.”