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Ex-Zambia U-17 star Changwe Kalale dies on birthday

Former Zambia U-17 star Changwe Kalale has passed away in Lusaka on his birthday, just over three years to the day after being involved in a bus crash that left him paralysed.

According to the Lusaka Times, the ex-midfielder passed away at the University Teaching Hospital on Sunday morning.

"Changwe died on Sunday morning around 09:00 hours," his father, Ben Kalale, told the Lusaka Times. "[The] funeral is at our home in Chambishi on the Copperbelt."

Andrew Kamanga, the President of the Zambian Football Federation, has also acknowledged the youngster's passing.

"It is with a heavy heart that we receive the passing on of a gifted player whose career was cut short through a terrible accident that confined him to a wheelchair," he said, as per the LT.

Kalale's progress was halted in December 2014 when a bus he was travelling on to join up with the national side crashed.

Four people died in the accident, including the bus driver, while Kalale's fellow players Satchmo Chakawa and Nyambe Mulenga were also involved.

Kalale had been due to take part in his first major tournament - the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea - when the accident happened, picking up a spinal injury that left him with limited movement from the waist down.

Zambia international and FC Liefering forward Patson Daka also paid tribute to the former wonderkid.

"My heart is filled with sorrow," he wrote on his @JnrDaka Twitter handle. "God has called you to rest, you fought a good fight and finished your race soldier of Christ.

"My heartfelt condolences to the Kalale family, may God give you grace to pull through in this challenging time."

Despite being told by doctors that he may never play football again, the then-17-year-old remained positive, and boldly told BBC Sport in a moving interview in 2015 that he was confident he'd return to the sport.

"I can't give up on football just because of that accident," Kalale told BBC Sport. "After the accident, I wasn't able to move. All I could do is sleep on the bed.

"But I'll be back, I know I will play football again. It's a matter of time," he added. "It has been a very painful experience for me especially because my career was on the rise.

"I'm sure I'd have played at the Africa Cup of Nations but the accident ruined all my plans."

Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.

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