Latvian football is in mourning following the death of the country's U-21 coach Genadijs Sitiks on Thursday.

An attacking midfielder during his playing days, Sitiks started his career with VEF Riga and was named Latvian player of the year in 1978 before joining Daugava Riga, where he successfully teamed up with current national team coach Aleksandrs Starkovs. Over the next 13 years he would attract the attention of several foreign sides, although he would have to wait until the collapse of the Soviet Union before enjoying spells in Sweden and then Poland.

He returned home to lead FK Vecriga to the Latvian championship as player-coach. After calling time on his career, he decided to set up a football academy in the Latvian capital and devote his attentions to coaching youngsters, a role he perfected during his time in charge of the U-21 side.

His sudden death prompted a heartfelt tribute from FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. "I was very sad to hear of the death of Genadijs Sitiks," he said. "On behalf of FIFA and myself, I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to his family and the Latvian Football Association."