Fans mourn Sevilla star

SEVILLE - Thousands of people paid homage overnight to Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta who died after suffering a heart attack during the club's opening match of the Spanish league on Saturday.

SEVILLE - Thousands of people paid homage overnight to Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta who died after suffering a heart attack during the club's opening match of the Spanish league on Saturday.

The 22-year-old, who made his national team debut last season, died in hospital on Tuesday and his body was moved to Sevilla's Sanchez Pizjuan stadium where a temporary mortuary was set up to allow fans to pay their respects.

"Puerta, friend, Seville is with you," supporters of Sevilla and its cross-town rivals, Betis Seville, chanted as the body was moved from the hospital to the stadium.

Puerta was to be buried at a cemetery in Seville, southwest Spain yesterday, the club said.

Thousands of fans from both clubs flocked to the stadium throughout Tuesday night to leave football scarves, candles and dozens of flower arrangements near Puerta's body.

The body of the player was draped with the flag of the club. At his side were the recent trophies won by the club, including the Uefa Cup won last season.

The Sevilla squad returned from Athens, where they had been set to play a Champions League return leg against AEK Athens on Tuesday night, and immediately went to the stadium about 2.35am yesterday.

The squad was greeted with applause by some 20000 supporters with cries of "Sevilla! Sevilla! Sevilla!"

The Champions League match has now been scheduled for Monday. - Sapa-AFP

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