Football mourns De Nigris
© AFP

The world of football was plunged into mourning on Monday following the death of Mexican player Antonio de Nigris, who suffered a heart attack at his home in Larissa, Greece. The striker had joined local club Larissa FC from Turkish side Ankaragucu in August.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter expressed his deepest condolences in a letter to Justino Compean, President of the Mexican Football Association (FMF). “It is with great regret that I am writing to you today having heard the sad news about the sudden death of the football player Antonio de Nigris,” wrote Blatter.

The FIFA President also asked his Mexican counterpart to pass on his most sincere condolences to all the player’s team-mates in the national side, to the fans and, most importantly, to his family, friends and loved ones. Blatter ended by saying: “I would be extremely grateful if you could let them know that the entire global football community is with them. I hope that our words of comfort can in some way bring them a little peace at this difficult time.”

A genuine football fanatic
Antonio de Nigris was born on 1 April 1978 and showed a passion for sport from a very early age. As a youngster he played tennis and football, but when the time came to choose one or the other he opted for the latter, making his league debut for Monterrey in 1999. The young striker made an instant impact with his prowess in the air and goalscoring instinct.

Two years later Mexico coach Enrique Meza called him up for the qualifiers for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™, though his debut came in a friendly against Brazil in March 2001. The game ended in a 3-3 draw, with De Nigris opening his international account with perhaps one of the finest goals of his career, a superb volley on the half-turn.

After earning hero status at Monterrey, he decided it was time to move on, becoming something of a footballing wayfarer and turning out for 11 different clubs over the next seven years. The tireless adventurer enjoyed spells at Spanish side Villarreal, Santos of Brazil, and Colombian outfit Once Caldas, for whom he appeared in the final of the Toyota Intercontinental Cup in 2004. He also played for a number of teams in Mexico and Turkey, and even had a stint with Shandong Luneng in China.

During his professional career De Nigris played 264 games and scored 74 goals, including 16 appearances and four goals for Mexico. Although he had only been at his new club Larissa FC for a few short months, he had already established himself as a valuable first-team regular, appearing in six games for the Greek side.

His ultimate objective was to force his way into the Tricolor squad for South Africa 2010 and then return home to play for his beloved Monterrey. Sadly, however, De Nigris’s dream will remain unfulfilled although his commitment, eye for goal and undoubted talent will live on in the memory of the many fans who saw him give his all on the field of play.