Costa Rica tragedy as assistant coach dies at 49 on international duty with boss finding out during first half of match

COSTA RICA’S assistant manager Erick Rodriguez has tragically passed away at the age of 49.

The Costa Rican Football Federation (FCRF) confirmed Rodriguez’s death yesterday.

AFPErick Rodriguez has died at the age of 49[/caption]

Costa Rica beat Saudi Arabia 3-1 in a friendly at St.James’ Par on Friday evening.

The national team then travelled to Zagreb for a friendly against The United Arab Emirates that took place yesterday.

Rodriguez began to feel unwell during the flight to Croatia, and was taken for medical evaluation during a layover in Amsterdam.

The FCRF statement said: “Saturday, Mr. Rodríguez presented a health issue during the transfer from Newcastle to Zagreb, which is why during the stopover in Amsterdam it was decided that he remain in that city to be medically evaluated, always in the company of a member of the administrative staff of the national team.

“However, on Sunday he was admitted to the OLVG Hospital in that city. That same day the federation made contacts for his wife to travel to the Netherlands, who managed to arrive Monday. However, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, his health condition worsened and unfortunately Erick Rodríguez died alongside his wife at 3:45 p.m. local time.

“The federation regrets this news, and at the same time is working on all the details for the repatriation of the body, together with the Costa Rican embassy in the Netherlands.”

An emotional Claudio Vivas, head coach of the national team, said in a video statement that he found out his assistant had died during the first half of Costa Rica’s game against The UAE.

He said: “I found out in the first half. I tried to be as professional as possible in the second half because we had to finish the game.

“He was a great friend and a great companion. These are things that one has to deal with in life, but it was something very sad and unfortunate that happened in less than 72 hours.”

Rodríguez coached several club teams in Costa Rica during his career, as well as the Costa Rica U-17 and U-23 national teams.

A clearly shaken Costa Rica team fell to a 4-1 loss against the UAE.

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