AN AWARD-WINNING Scottish footballer has collapsed and died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 22.
Peter McAvoy, 22, from Dundee, died after falling ill in his flat in New York.
He was considered one of the best players in US college football and was last year named as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s national player of the year.
The Scot collapsed in the living room of his apartment at Herkimer County Community College on Saturday night.
Campus staff attempted to resuscitate him before he was he was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
McAvoy, a former player for Arbroath Sporting Club and Tayport FC, moved to the US in 2012, where he played for New York State’s Herkimer Generals.
The former pupil of Craigiebarns Primary and Craigie High schools in Dundee is believed to have suffered a heart attack.
Speaking at the family home in Dundee yesterday, the footballer’s father, also Peter, said his family were shocked by the news.
Mr McAvoy said: “I spoke him recently and he was telling me they were having a ceremony next week because the team had won the league and the cup this season.
“He told me he would be speaking at the ceremony and he was really looking forward to it. I just can’t believe it.
“We have no heart attack history in the family, neither my side or his mother’s.
“He had so much potential. He went to America two years ago and won the championships in both seasons.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy from both America and Dundee.”
The father told how he rushed back from holiday in Gran Canaria after he heard about his son’s sudden death.
Mr McAvoy, head of education at Perth and Kinross Council, added: “He had played football the night before. The coach had given the team the day off on Saturday.
“Peter went with some friends to watch the softball team play and went back to his apartment afterwards, when he died.
“He was sitting on the settee and just keeled over at about tea-time. His flatmate called for the campus security and they tried to resuscitate him.
“The medics believe he had a massive heart attack. It’s just hard to believe, he was a fit young man.”
Craig Brown, co-manager of East Craigie FC, who played with the young footballer when he was a defender at Arbroath SC, added: “He was just a gentleman, a really nice guy. Nobody can get their head around it.
“It’s a tragedy. He was an absolute legend of a guy – he would do anything for you – and on the football pitch he was a superb player.”
And John McGlashan, manager of Arbroath FC when Peter was a youth player and also his manager at Tayport, said: “Everybody was taken aback when the news filtered through.
“He was a very popular young man at Arbroath and Tayport –well-liked and very confident.
“It didn’t surprise me when he said he was going to have a go at studying and playing football in America.”
Another young star, Fabrice Muamba, 25, was forced to retire from the game after collapsing on the pitch from a cardiac arrest in March 2012 at Tottenham Hotspur’s White Hart Lane ground.
The former England Under-21 midfielder survived after being effectively dead for 78 minutes when his heart stopped beating during an FA Cup match for Bolton at Tottenham.