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Young Atlético striker dies at 14

Christian Minchola starred for Atleti’s under-14 squad this season.

In a shocking bit of news, Atlético Madrid announced teenage forward Christian Minchola’s death on Saturday. No cause was given.

Minchola had turned 14 last month and joined Atlético’s academy as a seven-year-old in 2013. He played for Atlético’s Infantil C team — the under-14s — this year and scored over 50 goals as he moved up the youth ranks.

“We are shocked by the sad news of our player’s death, and we deeply mourn his loss,” club president Enrique Cerezo said in a club statement. “The entire Atlético family will be alongside Christian’s family and friends during this time of immense pain.”

“From today, our flag will fly at half-mast for Christian and for all the athletes who have died in recent weeks,” club CEO Miguel Ángel Gil Marín said. This seems to link Christian’s death to COVID-19, of which there are 54,000-plus active cases in Spain alone.

Diego Simeone and his players took to social media to express their surprise and sympathies.