Remembering Dani Jarque – One Year On

On August 8, 2009, the  footballing world was in shock after the death of Espanyol captain Dani Jarque.

Dani Jarque: Gone but not forgotten

The 26-year-old had been given the captaincy of his hometown club – with whom he had spent his entire career – just one month before suffering a heart attack while in Italy on Espanyol’s pre-season tour.

The news came with the death of Spanish international left-back Antonio Puerta still fresh in the mind of the nation’s football community, the Sevilla defender having died in hospital on August 2007, days after collapsing during a Primera Liga match against Getafe.

And Ruben de la Red, who like Jarque and Puerta before him has represented Inaki Saez’s under-21 squad, suffered a heart scare in October 2008. The Real Madrid midfielder has been out of the game since, with no date scheduled for his return.

Antonio Puerta: Sorely missed

It is good to know that neither Jarque nor Puerta has been forgotten, and fitting tributes have been paid to the former on the pitch. Last season Cesc Fabregas marked a goal for Arsenal against Everton by holding aloft an shirt bearing the name Jarque and the number 21, while Andres Iniesta celebrated his World Cup winning goal by removing his shirt to reveal the message “Dani Jarque:  Siempre con Nosotros” (“Dani Jarque: Always with Us”). It is worth also noting that Puerta’s former Sevilla team-mates Jesus Navas and Sergio Ramos were prepared to display similar messages in memory of the former Spanish international.

Considering the overriding hostility of the World Cup final, it seems almost insulting for the rules to have demanded Howard Webb show Iniesta a yellow card for his actions. There was a former fierce opponent at club level (Iniesta of course plays for Espanyol’s local rivals Barcelona) demonstrating that some things are more important than football.

Last week I asked you to take a minute to remember Adam Stansfield, the Exeter City striker who lost his battle with cancer. This week I want to emphasise that a year or more after their death, football players are still remembered for their contribution to the game.

I leave you with this moving tribute, recalling the impact Jarque had not just on Espanyol, but on football as a whole.

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