Cardiff City footballer Sol Bamba has spoken out about his anger at the way rumours spread about the death of his former teammate.
Peter Whittingham, 35, died after suffering a head injury following a fall on 7 March. He was being treated at the University Hospital of Wales following the incident.
The 35-year-old played eleven seasons for the Bluebirds after joining the team in 2007. He was widely regarded as one of the finest players ever to play for the club.
After his death, the club said “We are heartbroken. The news of Peter’s sudden and untimely passing has shaken us to our very foundation. Our love goes out to his wife Amanda, their young son and family.”
Bamba told ITV Wales’ sports reporter Beth Fisher he was “devastated” at losing his friend, describing him as a “legend” of the Welsh club.
“He was a legend of the football club. I think every single one of us love him because of the man he was. Obviously his football ability was unbelievable, but I think everyone will remember him because of the person he was.”
Rumours began circulating on social media before Peter’s death was announced, which Bamba said he was “very very upset” about.
“We knew he was in a critical condition for a couple of days. We still had hope that he would make it through”, he said.
“A few other people were already saying “rest in peace” and all this - and that drove me absolutely mad because unfortunately with social media, everybody wants to be the first and everybody wants to put something just to get some likes or whatever.
“But we're talking about somebody's life, his wife is pregnant and I think that was out of order.”
Tributes poured in for the former Bluebirds player after his death was announced on 19 March.
An inquest into the 35-year-old’s death is due to take place next year.
“He was a top man, I can’t speak more highly of him”, Sol told ITV.
“I love him to bits. From the first minute I got to the club he was good as gold with me. We used to go out together for dinner, drinks and everything so I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it when it happened and I hope his family and his wife are going to be ok. It was devastating news for all of us.”
He said while social media can be a positive and useful tool, people “really need to be careful”.
“If you use it properly it’s good but we really, really need to be careful. I think it’s the same when people abuse other people on it and if it’s used properly it’s good. But I hope this is a lesson for everyone to use it, but to be careful with it, because it could be devastating for a family.”
Watch the full with Sol and Beth where he also reflects on his career and getting back out on the field with Cardiff City.