Former Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson died Monday after being tasered by police in the Trench area of Telford, Shropshire on the street he grew up on. He was 48.
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) August 15, 2016
Atkinson scored the goal of the year against Wimbledon in the Premier League’s inaugural season in 1992:
Atkinson’s friends and relatives said the former star had been battling health issues that may have contributed to his death.
He had some health issues that he was trying to get through and that’s why his heart was weak.
Fabian Atkinson, Dalian’s nephew
His neighbor, Paula Quinn, was distraught over Atkinson’s death.
I heard shouting and something smashing, which is what alerted me to look out of the window. I am feeling a bit sick knowing that the poor lad has passed. I don’t care what anybody has done. Nobody deserves to die as a result of something like that.
Paula Quinn, neighbor
Atkinson’s career also included stints with Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Real Sociedad, Fenerbahçe, and Manchester City. Like many professional athletes, he struggled to adapt to normal life after retiring.
It can be difficult for players when they finish and I know Dalian found it difficult.
Footballers don’t know anything else. Dalian would not have finished his career financially secure and he was scratching around doing stuff.
When you finish as a footballer, all of a sudden at 34 or 35 you have no routine and no structure to your life, and that can be a major problem. It can be a very dangerous spiral and unfortunately that’s what it was for Dalian.
Carlton Palmer, friend and former teammate
Leagues around the world to do a better job of looking after their stars once they retire. It’s too often that you hear about a story involving a former professional athlete that ends in tragedy, and it’s a narrative that will continue to repeat itself unless a serious effort is made to ensure physical and mental well-being of players after retirement.