Over the weekend, 27 year old Carl-Erik Torp, a midfielder for SK Brann, suffered a dramatic collapse on the pitch and was immediately stretchered off by the medical staff. He was treated with a cardiac de-fibrillator unit in the locker room to get his heart beating again. Torp had come in as a 70th minute sub in the match against Sogndal, another Bergen side, in a domestic league game.
That timely intervention might have saved his life. He was then taken by air ambulance to Haukeland hospital in Bergen where according to the latest reports, he's recuperating well from heart failure which could have led to fatal cardiac arrhythmias. A genetic condition called hypertrophic cardio-myopathy, the so called "silent killer" which leads to a thickening of heart muscle and its eventual replacement by fibrous tissue has been implicated in the deaths of a number of young footballers. Amongst them Mark Vivien Foe, Miklos Feher, Dani Jarque, and Naoki Matsuda. In the USA, the ARVD Center at Johns Hopkins is the premier research institution investigating hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Will Torp ever get back on the pitch? In October 2008, Ruben de la Red, 23 years old, and a Real Madrid midfielder, collapsed on the pitch in similar fashion, against Real Union. A previously undiagnosed heart condition was discovered and de la Red missed all off the 2009-10 season with Real following up with a cardiac work up every two months.
He was never declared medically fit to resume playing and was forced to retire in November 2010 at the age of 25. Real never gave him his wages owed from the two years left in his contract and after a protracted struggle, de la Red had to settle for a monthly €1,500 disability benefit. Norway which has some of the best disability benefits in the world will ensure that Torp is well compensated if he cannot return to the pitch.