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Saturday 18 November 2017

Former Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson was due to see kidney specialist on day he died

Dalian Atkinson celebrates scoring for Aston Villa against Ipswich, his first professional club
Dalian Atkinson celebrates scoring for Aston Villa against Ipswich, his first professional club

The Professional Footballers’ Association have said that they were urgently seeking treatment for Dalian Atkinson who was due to see a specialist about his kidney condition on the day that he was Tasered by police in Shropshire and later died.

The PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes said that Atkinson, who was 48 when he died, had spoken personally to chief executive Gordon Taylor on Friday about his situation and the former Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday striker was booked in for an appointment on Monday.

He died in the early hours of the morning when he was Tasered by police having tried to force his way into the Telford home of his father Ernest, 85.

Barnes, himself formerly of West Ham, a contemporary of Atkinson, said that the player was due to see a specialist in Manchester on Monday. Previous to that, the PFA had been arranging his travel from his home to the hospital that was treating him for more than a year. Atkinson was in contact with the PFA’s head of player welfare Michael Bennett for some time.

Barnes said: “Dalian had a kidney and liver condition and his partner Karen had been in contact with our head of welfare. Gordon spoke to Dalian and Karen on Friday and we had arranged for Dalian to see a specialist on Monday. We were going to pay for that because that’s what we do. It was a huge shock for us when the news started coming out.”

He added: “It’s tragic that his life had ended under these circumstances and we feel for his family. The details are for another day and without going into the details of Dalian’s life, as much as anything it does illustrate that life after football can be hard.

"We have 40-50 counsellors at the PFA. There is a lot of living to be done when you finish playing. How well-equipped players are to move into that second phase of their life … it’s something we focus hugely on.”

One of the original Premier League footballers, playing in the league’s first season in 1992-1993, Atkinson’s career drifted after he left Aston Villa in 1995. He retired from the game in 2001. The Independent Police Complaints Commission have promised a full investigation into the incident involving West Mercia police force.

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