Stoke City forward Saido Berahino has paid tribute to his international team-mate Papy Faty who died of suspected heart failure during a match in eSwatini on Thursday.
Faty, 28, was playing for local team Melanti Chiefs, whom he joined in early February.
They were playing against Green Mamba when he collapsed after only about 15 minutes on the pitch.
He was rushed to hospital, where he was declared dead.
“I still can’t believe it. It was an honour to play with you for Burundi and also qualifying for the first time ever,” Berahino wrote on Instagram .
“History was made, you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace.”
Burundi Football Federation (BFA) president Reverien Ndikuriyo described Faty’s passing as a ‘hard blow’ as the East Africans prepare to debut at the Nations Cup in Egypt.
“On behalf of the BFA and myself, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family of the deceased and to Burundi football. It’s a hard blow coming after we qualified for the 2019 Nations Cup,” said Ndikuriyo.
The country’s sports minister Harries Bulunga also expressed his condolences in a statement.
“The ministry joins the rest of the nation in sending condolences to Mr Faty’s family and friends. May his soul rest in peace,” Bulunga said.
Former Ghana international defender Anthony Baffoe, who is the Deputy General Secretary of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) also added a short tribute.
“My condolences to his entire family. .R.I.P. Papy Faty,” Baffoe wrote on Twitter.
Faty was released from his contracts at South African clubs Bidvest Wits and Real Kings due to a long-standing heart condition.
Unable to join a club in South Africa, he moved to Swaziland and joined Melanti Chiefs on a six-month deal in February.
His two goals in seven matches in eSwatini caught the attention of selectors in March and he was recalled to the national set-up after a three-year absence.
Faty was an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw with Gabon at home in March that sealed Burundi’s maiden spot at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
He only confirmed last week to local media that he had been advised by doctors in January to stop playing, but that he had rejected the advice and a heart operation because he believed his heart issues were behind him.
Faty made his international debut in June 2008, scoring three goals in 28 appearances for The Swallows.
He becomes the latest African footballer, after Ivory Coast midfielder Cheikh Tiote, to die after a heart-related problem .
Former Nigeria captain Nwankwo Kanu had said the recent death of Tiote should be a wake-up call to act over heart problems in Africa.