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

FILE PHOTO: Duangpetch Promthep introduces himself during a 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 died in Britain while studying on a soccer scholarship, authorities said Wednesday.

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

Ian Smith, the headmaster of the central English boarding school where he had been studying, said he had been “devastated” and the university community was “deeply saddened and shocked” by his death.

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

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

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

The cause of death has not been released, but Leicestershire Police said she was “not being treated as a suspect”.

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

FILE PHOTO: Rescuers rest as they remove machines after 12 soccer players and their coach were rescued at the 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 Sunday out of concern for the well-being of a student, who was subsequently taken to the hospital and later died, according to the force.

He did not name Duangpetch, in accordance with UK police protocols.

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

Thailand soccer legend Kiatisuk “Zico” Senamuang, whose charity helped Duangpetch win a three-year scholarship to Britain, said a teacher found him unconscious in his room at school.

“A hospital treated him from Sunday and informed the Thai embassy yesterday that his heartbeat was slow and he was not responding,” Kiatisuk told an online news conference, speaking from Vietnam.

“Her voice is still in my ears. He had dreams of him. He wanted to be a professional footballer, he wanted to be a national footballer,” Kiatisuk added tearfully.

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

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

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Smith said Brooke House College was in contact with the authorities and the Thai Embassy in London, and “devoting all resources to helping our student body, while… young people process Dom’s death.”

The Wild Boars football team’s exciting 18-day rescue effort in June 2018 made headlines around the world and has inspired films, documentaries and books ever since.

Duangpetch received the soccer scholarship to Brooke House College last year and was the first Zico Foundation student sent abroad.

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

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


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