HONDURAS international Walter Martinez has tragically died at the age of 37 – just nine years after playing in the World Cup.
Midfielder Martinez, who had also starred for American side San Jose Earthquakes, is believed to have died from a heart attack following a night out with a mate.
The Honduran FA confirmed his passing in a tweet which read: “With sadness that overwhelms the family of Honduran football, we regret the death of Walter Julian Martinez.
“Solidarity and a balm of divine peace for your family and friends. RIP.”
Martinez, who helped get Honduras to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa for just the second time, last played for El Salvador side FAS.
He scored six goals in 20 appearances before retiring in 2015.
Martinez, who was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was said to have joined Chinese Super League side Beijing Gouan last year but did not appear to make any appearances for them.
Heartbroken fans laid flowers and shirts in honour of him in front of the club’s stadium after learning of his death.
Martinez is said to have suffered the heart attack while at the apartment of friend and fellow footballer Jose Chepo Fernandez in New York.
‘I TRIED TO REVIVE HIM BUT COULDN’T’
Fernandez told a Honduran newspaper that the pair had gone out to the El Copaneco club in the Bronx area of the city where they allegedly partied until dawn.
He said they both went back to his house and he discovered Martinez on the floor of his bedroom a few hours later.
Fernandez said: “I was inside my room and when I left I found him on the floor. I tried to revive him but I couldn’t.
“Immediately I called the ambulance and minutes later they were there but nothing could be done.”
Nicknamed Pery, Martinez, who had gone to the US to start a new life with his family, scored 12 goals in 49 appearances for his country.
His career took in nine different clubs and included three spells with Beijing Guoan, where he played for a total of three years.
He started his journey in 2001 at Honduran side Victoria and then starred for Marathon and Vida before moving to China.
Martinez also featured for Spanish club Alaves and San Jose – the US side for which Brazilian icon Pele famously played.
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Devastated fans paid tribute to Martinez online.
One said: “Sad day for football, thoughts and prayers with the family of Walter Martinez.”
Another wrote: “One of the greatest players that Honduras has ever had. RIP Walter Martinez.”
This post written by Sam Morgan originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.