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By ESPN Staff

Utrecht defender Di Tommaso dies aged 26

FC Utrecht admit they still do not know the cause of defender David di Tommaso's sudden death.

The 26-year-old Frenchman had been an ever-present on the pitch for Utrecht this season and had no suspected health problems before he died in his sleep on Monday night.

Following the club's 1-0 victory over Ajax on Sunday, Di Tommaso trained on Monday and was thought to have been fully fit.

Club doctor Frank van Hellemondt told a press conference on Tuesday: 'We had no idea that there was something wrong with David di Tommaso, so we are completely surprised by what happened.

'He trained on Monday and there was no sign that anything was wrong. He went out to dinner and had a feeling that he had eaten too much, so he went to bed early.

'We cannot give any more information about a possible cause of death, as it is still unclear.'

An imposing defender, Di Tommaso graduated from Monaco's academy ranks before representing the French giants in Ligue 1 and the Champions League.

The Sedan-born star was signed by Utrecht in the summer of 2004 to fill the gap left by the departure of Patrick Zwaanswijk, and he cited Dutch football's attack-minded style of play as a major factor in luring him to Holland.

The former French youth international was voted player of the year in his first term at Stadion Galgenwaard.

Following the announcement of his death, fans have travelled to the club's stadium to lay tributes to a player described by club chairman Jan Willem van Dop as 'a jewel'.

He said: 'As you have already heard, we have some terrible news that our player, David di Tommaso died completely unexpectedly. Our thoughts go to his wife and son, who he leaves behind. For them, it is a real tragedy.

'Everybody is totally devastated by what has happened. He was a fantastic player, a very nice guy and a colleague who had a very positive attitude.

'Since he came to Utrecht last summer, he did everything he could to adapt to life at the club and he was a jewel for the club. He was an example for the younger players.

'Utrecht already acknowledged David's performances for the club by awarding him the player of the year award last season.'

Van Dop confirmed that the club's away clash with Willem II, scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed until further notice, and added: 'The club's official website has set up a page of condolence, which has already received over 5,000 messages.

'As soon as we have further information about a memorial service to be held for David, this will be given by the club.'