Atalanta midfielder Andrea Rinaldi has died three days after suffering a brain aneurysm at home, aged just 19.
The teenager, who was on loan at Serie D club Legnano, had fallen ill on Friday and was taken to hospital in Varese, where he passed away.
Fourth-tier club Legnano confirmed the news on their club website, which described Rinaldi as “a golden boy, exemplary in life and play”.
The statement said: “AC Legnano, the city and the entire football universe, at all levels, today live one of their most upsetting days. Andrea Rinaldi, our warrior, has left us. An aneurysm snatched him in the prime of life, with a life ahead of him and with a career that promised bright goals. A sudden and shocking tragedy, impossible even to imagine.”
Legnano chairman Giovanni Munafo added: “When Andrea came to training, he came first to greet me. This is a memory I will carry in my heart.
“An extraordinary boy, an example for everyone. On behalf of the club, I express my deepest condolences to the family. We are sure that Andrea, from up there, will be the usual warrior like always, who fought in the middle of the pitch to bring the Legnano fans joy.”
Rinaldi, who would have turned 20 on June 23, had fallen ill while training at home due to the coronavirus lockdown.
He came through the academy system at Atalanta after joining the club when he was 13. He had previously helped the club’s Under-17s win the Scudetto and Supercoppa Italiana at their age level.
A statement from the Serie A club said: “Just as on the pitch, you were always the last to surrender, this time too you fought with all your might not to fly away too soon – but that kind smile of yours will always remain alive in the hearts of those who had the good fortune to meet you.”
After impressing in youth football, Rinaldi had taken his first steps into senior football last season with loan spells at Imolese in Serie C and Mezzolara in the Italian fourth tier.
He had been a key figure for Legnano this season, making 23 appearances in the league and scoring one goal.