Wolfsburg player Junior Malanda dies in car crash

Junior Malanda: Tributes to midfielder
Junior Malanda: Tributes to midfielder
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Wolfsburg midfielder Junior Malanda has died at the age of 20, the Belgian Football Association has announced.

According to reports in Germany, the Belgium under-21 international died after the car he was a passenger in crashed on a motorway near Porta Westfalica in north-west Germany yesterday afternoon.

Bild newspaper said the two other people in the vehicle had been taken to hospital with serious injuries after the car left the road and crashed into a tree amid heavy rain and wind.

A statement on www.belgianfootball.be read: “The football world today lost a great talent. Junior Malanda lost his life this afternoon, at the age of 20. The Belgian Football Association extends its sympathy to family and friends.”

Malanda, who joined the Bundesliga club from Belgian side Zulte Waregem in 2013, had reportedly been due to fly to South Africa last night for Wolfsburg’s winter training camp.

Wolfsburg have yet to confirm the news on their website but forward Kevin De Bruyne – a club-mate and countryman of Malanda – wrote on Instagram: “So strange to hear your friend in the morning and then hear this news. Lost a great friend way to [sic] early. Rest in peace my friend. You will always be around.”

n Real Madrid got back to winning ways with a 3-0 victory over Espanyol at the Bernabeu yesterday. Carlo Ancelotti’s men were beaten by Valencia last Sunday and city rivals Atletico in the Copa Del Rey in midweek, but goals from James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale and Nacho Fernandez ensured they avoided a hat-trick of defeats. Barcelona host Atletico Madrid tonight.