In one of football’s most horrifying sights this weekend past saw Nigerian winger Michael Olaitan collapse to the flop without anybody around him - and immediately players went to their deepest fears.
The likes of Marc-Vivien Foe, Miklos Feher and Antonio Puerta have all recently passed away after suffering from heart attacks on the football pitch - while Fabrice Muamba’s collapse and ultimate survival still act as a haunting reminder of this underlying, rare, but often devastating problem.
In the recent Athens Derby, which Olympiakos surprisingly lost 3-0 to Panathinaikos, he went to the ground with nobody near him in the first half - and was quickly rushed off to hospital.
The fear was that Olaitan - like the names mentioned above, may have been suffering from an undiagnosed heart condition which may have caused the problem.
Luckily for Olaitan that does not appear to be the case.
He quickly stabilised and later that that night Olympiakos released a statement stating his condition was stable - a condition that was updated to ‘very good’ just a day later.
It appears that Olaitan had suffered from a viral infection and subsequent myocarditis - and this is what brought on the problem - rather than anything more insidious.
It is a similar problem to that suffered by former Manchester United youngster Craig Cathcart in 2012 - and with symptomatic treatment it should pass as soon as the viral infection has left the body which could be up to a week.
“I’m getting better and will soon be discharged (from hospital) by God’s grace. I thank Nigerians for their love and concern; they should continue to pray for me.”
However, despite some reports suggesting Olaitan could be back for the Manchester United second leg in just less than two weeks’ time, it is unlikely he will return.
The official advice after an episode such as this would be to avoid heavy physical activity for at least six months - to allow the cardiac muscle to heal and to relieve strain on the heart.
But if the scans come back clear - then who knows Olaitan might just make a miraculous comeback at Old Trafford.
image: © pixagraphic