Captain of Thai 'cave boys' football team dies in Britain | Inquirer Sports

Captain of Thai ‘cave boys’ football team dies in Britain

/ 08:18 PM February 15, 2023

FILE PHOTO: Duangpetch Promthep introduces himself during the news conference in Chiang Rai, Thailand July 18, 2018.

FILE PHOTO: Duangpetch Promthep introduces himself during the news conference in Chiang Rai, Thailand July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File Photo

One of 12 boys dramatically rescued from a Thai cave in 2018 has died in Britain while studying on a football scholarship, authorities said on Wednesday.

Duangpetch Promthep, 17, who was captain of the football team that was stranded in floodwaters in the northern Thailand cave, died Tuesday at a hospital in England, Brooke House College confirmed.

Ian Smith, the principal at the central English boarding school where he had been studying, said it had been left “devastated” and the college community “deeply saddened and shaken” by his passing.

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“We unite in grief with all of Dom’s family, friends, former teammates and those involved in all parts of his life, as well as everyone affected in any way by this loss in Thailand,” he added.

The news was shared on social media by a Buddhist monk who taught the boys in Thailand’s northern Chiang Rai province.

“Duangpetch Promthep has now gone to another world,” Supatpong Methigo posted on Facebook. “I hope he will be reborn and become my student again in the next life.”

The cause of death has not been revealed but Leicestershire police said it was “not being treated as suspicious.”

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FILE PHOTO: Rescue workers take a rest as they take out machines after 12 soccer players and their coach were rescued in Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 10, 2018.

FILE PHOTO: Rescue workers take a rest as they take out machines after 12 soccer players and their coach were rescued in Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File Photo

Officers were called to the school on Sunday over concerns for the welfare of a pupil, who was subsequently taken to hospital and later died, according to the force.

It did not name Duangpetch, in line with UK policing protocols.

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A coroner will formally identify him and determine the cause of death.

Thailand’s football legend Kiatisuk “Zico” Senamuang, whose charity helped Duangpetch secure a three-year scholarship in Britain, said a teacher had found him unconscious in his room at the school.

“A hospital treated him since Sunday and informed the Thai embassy yesterday that his heartbeat was slow and he had no response,” Kiatisuk told an online press conference, speaking from Vietnam.

“His voice is still in my ears. He had his dreams. He wanted to be a professional footballer, he wanted to be national footballer,” added a tearful Kiatisuk.

Duangpetch’s mother, Thanaporn Duangthep, and his father briefly joined the press conference, after a Thai reporter in the northern city of Chiang Rai was able to telephone them.

“We want to bring his body home, our family does not have much (money)…. He is a pillar of the family,” his mother said.

Smith said Brooke House College was liaising with the authorities and the Thai Embassy in London, and “dedicating all resources to assist our student body, as… young people process Dom’s passing”.

The nail-biting 18-day rescue effort of the Wild Boars football team in June 2018 made headlines across the globe and has since inspired movies, documentaries and books.

Duangpetch was awarded the football scholarship to study at Brooke House College last year, and was the Zico Foundation’s first such student sent overseas.

“Today my dream came true,” he wrote on Instagram in August. “I will focus and do my best.”

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Mark Gooding, Britain’s ambassador in Bangkok, tweeted his condolences to Duangpetch’s family.

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