Promising Hibernian FC player dies from suspected drug overdose after night out

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A TALENTED young footballer from Hibernian FC was found dead yesterday morning after a suspected drugs overdose.

Liam O’Sullivan, 20, who had rescued a promising career on the pitch following a major operation on a knee injury, had gone to a party on Sunday night and stayed over at a friend’s house in Haddington.

The player, who signed a five-year contract with Hibs after proving himself as a teenager at Hutchison Vale Football Club, was found dead on the sofa the following morning after apparently taking a cocktail of drugs thought to include methadone and ecstasy.

His death comes one day after Brian McEwan, 22, was found dead, also in Haddington, from an overdose of a similar mix.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: "Police were called to an address in Haddington where they found a body of a 20-year-old man. Inquiries are being made into his death and a report will be submitted to the procurator-fiscal.

"Samples of substances found at both incidents have been sent to the forensic laboratory for testing." The spokesman added that a post-mortem would be carried out.

Mr O’Sullivan’s parents were too upset to speak of their son’s death yesterday and were being comforted at their home in Haddington.

But in a statement released through Hibernian Football Club, his father, Des, said: "Liam had struggled hard to come to terms with and then overcome his injury, so this has come as a terrible shock. We are all stunned - he seemed to be getting on well."

Following his knee injury nearly 18 months ago, Mr O’Sullivan underwent an operation in which his thigh bone was broken to allow a specialist to pull his hamstring tendons down to wrap around the knee, giving it strength, with everything held in place by a screw.

Rod Petrie, managing director of Hibernian FC, said everybody at the club had been stunned and saddened to hear of Mr O’Sullivan’s death.

He said: "While we all feel a sense of loss, our thoughts and sympathies must go out to his family.

"Liam had begun to battle back to fitness following a long period of injury and had shown great character in doing so. He was working with both the club and his family to overcome his injury and some personal issues and everyone is devastated at his untimely death."

Locals who knew Mr O’Sullivan described him as a nice young man who came from a good family.

Rory McFarlane, 24, a barman at the Pheasant in Haddington, said: "We went to the same primary school in Haddington, St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School, but we did not hang around together as I was about three years older than him.

"Sometimes he would come in here and he seemed very nice. He used to be the boys’ champion at our school’s sports day and I am surprised that people are talking about drugs because you would not imagine it."

Tam Smith, the club leader at Hutchison Vale Football Club in Edinburgh, who also lives in Haddington, said: "Liam would play centre-half and he was a lovely lad, a great lad, from a lovely family. He had a good contract with Hibs and was even sent to play in Iceland to gain experience. His school team won the Scottish Cup in 1995 and 1996."

Around 100 former Hutchison players have gone on to semi-professional or professional football, including Gary Naysmith at Everton and John Collins at Fulham.