Enock Mwepu gets loads of love from Brighton players, fans after forced retirement
It was an impressive show of love as Brighton players warmed up in shirts with Enock Mwepu’s name on the back ahead of Friday’s Premier League clash against Brentford, while fans – and chairman Tony Bloom – displayed Zambia flags in the away end.
Earlier this week, the football world came together to support Enock Mwepu, who announced his early retirement after being diagnosed with a hereditary heart condition.
The 24-year-old was taken ill while on a flight to join up with the Zambia squad during the recent international break and after a period in hospital in Mali, he returned to Brighton to undergo further cardiac tests.
It was then confirmed that those tests had concluded that his illness is due to a hereditary cardiac condition which manifests later in life. It was not previously evident on regular cardiac screening.
A club statement read: “Sadly this can be exacerbated by playing sport so Enock has been advised that the only option, for the sake of his own safety, is for him to stop playing football.
“The condition, which can worsen over time, would put Enock at an extremely high risk of suffering a potentially fatal cardiac event, if he were to continue playing competitive football.”
Mwepu released a statement of his own on Monday explaining his decision to retire.
“A boy from a small Zambian township called Chambishi has some news to share,” Mwepu said in a statement published on Brighton’s website.
“He stood strong to follow his dream of playing football at the highest level, and by the grace of God he lived his dream by reaching the Premier League.
“Some dreams, however, come to an end so it is with sadness that I announce the need to hang up my boots because of the medical advice I have received. This is, however, not the end of my involvement with football. I plan to stay involved in some capacity.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that supported me in my football journey, including my wife and family, my agent 12MAN, the Zambian FA, all my previous clubs, team-mates and coaches and especially everyone at Brighton & Hove Albion.”
Days after Mwepu’s announcement and as the Premier League outfit prepared to face Brentford in West London, everyone associated with Brighton came together to pay tribute to the former RB Salzburg player.
From wearing Mwepu branded shirts in the warm-up, to having a Zambia flag in their dressing room as a show of support, the Seagulls have been praised by many for their efforts.
Brentford manager Thomas Frank even devoted the first three paragraphs of his programme notes for his 200th game in charge to the recently-retired midfielder.
Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi has expressed his sympathy for Mwepu, who only joined the Seagulls from Red Bull Salzburg in 2021.
“I am so sorry for Enock. Before I arrived I looked at all the squad, and he was a player I was so excited and looking forward to working with. We will do everything we can to help him,” said De Zerbi.
Brighton’s head of medicine and performance, Adam Brett, added: “It is a terrible blow for Enock, but he has to put his health and his family first and this is the right choice, however difficult it is to quit the game he loves.
“Of course, given this is Enock’s career and a decision which can’t be taken lightly we have taken our time to be as thorough as possible, completed advanced cardiac investigations and collaborated with clinical experts to gain the best second opinions for Enock,” added Brett.
“We will be helping him make sure the condition is managed with the appropriate treatment for him to otherwise live a long and healthy life.”
After impressing for Salzburg over four seasons with the Austrian club, Mwepu joined Brighton on a four-year deal in 2021.
He went on to make 27 appearances for the Seagulls, scoring three times – including a superb goal against Liverpool in last season’s 2-2 draw at Anfield.
Brighton chairman Tony Bloom has also expressed his sympathy for Mwepu and confirmed the Premier League club would continue to support the player following his retirement.
“We are all absolutely devastated for Enock. He and his family have had a traumatic few weeks and while we are just thankful he has come through that period, he has seen such a promising career cut short at such a young age,” said Bloom.
“As a club we will give him all the love, help and support we possibly can to make a full recovery, and then as he decides on the next steps in his life.”
Meanwhile, Brighton fans sang Enock Mwepu’s song 200 times in the first 12 minutes of their 2-0 defeat to Brentford on Friday evening.
Those inside the Gtech Community Stadium sang Mwepu’s name to the tune of The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ from the moment the whistle blew until the 12th minute.
One person commented: “I think the whole league should do something similar. It’s always terrible to see a promising career cut short.”
Another put: “Pure class from the Brighton fans.”
A third tweeted: “It’s clear to see how much they all love him.”
While someone said: “Unbelievable commitment to supporting one of their own.”
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