Spanish football is in mourning after Espanyol skipper Daniel Jarque collapsed and died on their pre-season tour in Italy.

The 26-year-old homegrown player was one of the stars of the Catalan side, having made his way up through the youth ranks to don the captain's armband.

The defender made his Spanish first division debut against Recreativo Huelva in October 2002. Over the last two seasons he had become one of Los Periquitos' most consistent and dependable performers, earning the trust of the club's various coaches in that time.

The whole footballing world is in mourning after learning of this terrible news which has shaken our sport, particularly as it involves such a young player, who was loved by everyone. On behalf of FIFA and the entire football family, I would like to offer our sincere condolences, in particular to Espanyol and their fans, but more importantly to his parents, loved ones and friends.

An extract from a condolence letter written by the FIFA President.

A mainstay of the Espanyol defence, the centre-half had many attributes. Strong, pacy and commanding in the air, he was capped several times at U-21 level and was widely tipped to earn a place in the full Spain side.

Jarque played a leading role in his side's 4-1 Copa del Rey final win over Real Zaragoza at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2006, and was also to the fore on the Barcelona club's run to the 2006/07 UEFA Cup final, where they lost on penalties to Sevilla.

The young defender was preparing for what promised to be another impressive season after taking over as captain from fellow club legend Raul Tamudo.